EDATTAIN records the person's educational attainment in terms of the level of schooling completed (degree or other milestone). The emphasis on level completed is critical: a person attending the final year of secondary education receives the code for having completed lower secondary only -- and in some samples only primary.
EDATTAIN does not necessarily reflect any particular country's definition of the various levels of schooling in terms of terminology or the number of years of schooling. EDATTAIN is an attempt to merge -- into a single, roughly comparable variable -- samples that provide degrees, ones that provide actual years of schooling, and those that have some of both. In addition to EDATTAIN, a country-specific education classification is provided which loses no information and reflects the particular educational system of that country (for example EDUCBR for Brazil, EDUCCL for Chile, and EDUCUS for the United States). As always, users can refer to the original education source variables for each sample, if they wish.
Many samples also give single years of schooling completed, recorded in YRSCHOOL. Some samples provide educational information in a form that could not be incorporated into EDATTAIN.