Education and Social Progress


Recent event:
24-25 March 2014, São Paulo, Brazil - High Level Policy Forum "Skills for Social Progress"



This project is about better understanding how to prepare individuals for tomorrow's world; a world that can be prosperous yet challenging, unpredictable and uncertain. Those empowered can better maneuver in a highly dynamic and skill-driven labour market. They are more capable of preventing physical and mental illness by following healthy lifestyles and interpersonal relationships. They are more likely to weather the storms of life such as victimization, hospitalization and family disintegration through forward-looking, coping strategies. Such individuals can contribute to a cohesive society.


Education can prepare individuals for their future by improving their cognitive skills which are reflected in, for example, literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills. Moreover, education can enhance non-cognitive skills, such as perseverance, diligence and self-esteem. Recent evidence suggests that non-cognitive skills can be as powerful as cognitive skills in promoting individual success while remaining malleable beyond childhood.


The power of learning in addressing life challenges and promoting social progress is good news for stakeholders in education. Yet this conjecture is largely based on an emerging, albeit limited, evidence-base from a few OECD countries including the United States and the United Kingdom. Policy-makers, educators and parents clearly need more and better information that covers wider socio-economic, cultural, ethnic and linguistic contexts before engaging in comprehensive actions to promote individual empowerment. They also need to start understanding the types and nature of cognitive and non-cognitive skills that need to be nurtured, and how that might be done. To these ends, this project will:

  • identify the role cognitive and non-cognitive skills play in driving individual success and social progress in OECD countries; and
  • identify how skills that matter can be better developed in families, schools workplaces and communities.



This project is organized around three major components:

  • Component 1. Conceptual framework development: Conceptual papers will define skills, model the determinants and consequences of skills and synthesize available evidence.
  • Component 2. Quantitative analyses: Existing longitudinal data from OECD countries will be analyzed to complement available evidence-base on the determinants and consequences of skills. The longitudinal data comes from Australia, Denmark, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • Component 3. Pilot data collection on skills: Novel instruments to measure cognitive and non-cognitive skills will be introduced to collect skills data and develop indicators that describe the predictive power of skills on individual outcomes.

The long-term objective of this project is to translate these findings into a set of policy recommendations that can be used by stakeholders in education.


For more information, read the PDF of the Education and Social Progress Brochure


Koji Miyamoto
Maria Huerta
Hiroko Ikesako
Katarzyna Kubacka
Elodie de Oliveira
Marta Rilling



Related Documents
Improving Health and Social Cohesion through Education


Related Project
Social Outcomes of Learning