PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARIES
Inequalities in Literacy Skills Among Youth
in Canada and the United States
This study examines the level of literacy skills and social inequality in the distribution of literacy skill for young adults aged 16 to 25 in Canada and the United States.
As such it sheds light on the success of school systems in developing literacy and as a predictor of future economic success
The report analyzes the extent to which literacy inequalities between youth from differ jurisdictions in Canada and the US can be attributed to differences in parental education levels, gender, immigrant status, and (in the US) ethnic group.
Employment projections for the coming decades predict weak demand for lowskilled workers and growing demand for moderately and high skilled workers. Literacy has been shown to be a key determinant of workers’ productivity, a tool that helps them to apply their other skills for economic ends.
The analyses confirm the existence of large differences in literacy performance among jurisdictions, differences that suggest that some education systems are more efficient than others at producing literacy. This information should help decision makers focus their efforts to improve skill levels and to reduce social inequality in skill among graduates from differing social backgrounds.
Where they are successful in doing so tax payers will get a better return on their investments in education, the economy will be able to grow at a more rapid rate and inequalities in access to post-secondary education, adult education, employment and wage rates and health status should fall.
Inequalities in the distribution of literacy skills of youth are considerably greater in some countries than others. The analyses show that countries that achieve high levels of literacy skill do so by reducing differences in literacy skill among youth from differing social backgrounds.