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Learning in later life: participation in formal, non-formal and informal activities in a nationally representative Spanish sample


This article examines the participation of Spanish older people in formal, non-formal and informal learning activities and presents a profile of participants in each kind of learning activity. We used data from a nationally representative sample of Spanish people between 60 and 75 years old (n = 4,703). The data were extracted from the 2007 Encuesta sobre la Participación de la Población Adulta en Actividades de Aprendizaje (EADA, Survey on Adult Population Involvement in Learning Activities). Overall, only 22.8 % of the sample participated in a learning activity. However, there was wide variation in the participation rates for the different types of activity. Informal activities were far more common than formal ones. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that education level and involvement in social and cultural activities were associated with likelihood of participating, regardless of the type of learning activity. When these variables were taken into account, age did not predict decreasing participation, at least in non-formal and informal activities. Implications for further research, future trends and policies to promote older adult education are discussed.

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Correspondence to Feliciano Villar.

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Responsible editor: H.-W. Wahl.

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Villar, F., Celdrán, M. Learning in later life: participation in formal, non-formal and informal activities in a nationally representative Spanish sample. Eur J Ageing 10, 135–144 (2013).

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  • Learning
  • Life course and developmental change
  • Successful ageing