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Here are the questions that were asked.

The 2002 ELSA questionnaire asked respondents up to five basic questions involving successively more complex numerical calculations.6 The six possible questions are presented in Appendix 1. Answers to all questions are entirely unprompted (i.e. respondents are not given a
menu of possible answers to choose from). Each respondent initially receives questions q2, q3 and q4. If all of these are answered incorrectly the respondent receives question q1 and that is the
end of their numeracy module. Otherwise the respondent receives question q5. If the respondent reports a correct answer to any (or all) of questions q3, q4 and q5, they receive the final and most
difficult question q6 that requires an understanding of compound interest. Since more able individuals receive more questions in this design the number of questions answered correctly is a straightforward measure of numerical ability that can be derived simply from this module. This is the measure summarised by Steel et al (2003) in their initial descriptive analysis of the ELSA data.

Box 1a. Numeracy items in ELSA questionnaire

q1) If you buy a drink for 85 pence and pay with a one pound coin, how much change should you get?

q2) In a sale, a shop is selling all items at half price. Before the sale a sofa costs £300. How much will it cost in the sale?

q3) If the chance of getting a disease is 10 per cent, how many people out of 1,000 would be expect to get the disease?

q4) A second hand car dealer is selling a car for £6,000. This is two-thirds of what it cost new. How much did the car cost new?

q5) If 5 people all have the winning numbers in the lottery and the prize is £2 million, how much will each of them get?

q6) Let’s say you have £200 in a savings account. The account earns ten per cent interest per year. How much will you have in the account at the end of two years?

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