Vocabulary from adolescence to middle age

Alice Sullivan, Matthew Brown


The 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) is rich in cognitive measures taken during childhood and adolescence, and also includes adult measures of literacy and numeracy. The Age 42 survey in 2012 included a cognitive scale which had been used previously with the cohort in childhood – a vocabulary test first taken in 1986, when the cohort members were 16 years old. This paper asks how vocabulary scores changed between the ages of 16 and 42, taking account of early social background and childhood reading behaviour, but also examining the influence of educational and labour market attainment and reading for pleasure in mid-life. We find that both educational and occupational attainment, and reading habits in child-hood and adulthood, are linked to the development of vocabulary over time.


longitudinal research; cognition; reading; BCS70

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14301/llcs.v6i2.310

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