Is Lifelong Learning Making a Difference? Research-Based Evidence on the Impact of Adult Learning

  • John FieldEmail author
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 26)


We have, in recent years, seen a remarkable expansion in serious research attention to lifelong learning and its benefits (Schuller and Desjardins 2007). Many researchers and policy specialists find this work particularly persuasive, because it is based on large scale longitudinal survey data. These surveys follow a sample of individuals over time, asking them periodically about different aspect of their lives. Where the surveys ask for details about people’s learning, the results can be correlated with other information about their lives. Much of this research is by British researchers, undertaken in two centres that were launched by the UK government in 1999 to investigate the economic and non-economic benefits of learning. The centres have attracted extensive international interest and are widely recognised as being at the leading edge of educational research. After here summarising and commenting on this work, as well as findings from other countries where available, I then consider the implications for policy, practice and research.


Lifelong Learning Adult Education Adult Learning Wage Effect Human Capital Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning, School of EducationUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

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