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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2002 Nov;57(6):S324-31.

Later life education in the 1990s: increasing involvement and continuing disparity.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599-3210, USA.



We examine age differences in adults' participation in, perceived barriers to, and institutional support for educational activities provided by schools, businesses, and community organizations in the 1990s.


We conduct descriptive and logistic regression analyses on a sample of respondents aged 30 to 74 from the National Household Education Surveys.


Adult education participation rates increased for all ages over the 1990s, but gains were proportionately largest among people in later phases of the life course. Although age was a weaker predictor of engaging in educational activities at the end of the 1990s than it was at the beginning of the decade, older adults continue to be less likely than younger ones to participate in education and training provided by businesses and schools. Some of this age discrepancy occurs because employers are more likely to provide financial support for training to younger employees. Older adults, however, are less likely than younger adults to perceive obstacles to their participation in education and training.


Although age-graded roles of student, worker, and retiree are becoming increasingly blurred, Americans' pursuit of education at the end of the twentieth century was still guided by age-related role expectations.

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