Adult literacy and economic growth (2004)

This paper looks at whether an increase in the basic literacy skills of adults would have a positive effect on the New Zealand economy. It finds good evidence for the benefits of literacy: studies
consistently find that adults with better literacy skills are more likely to be employed, and to earn more, than those with poorer literacy skills, even when taking account of other factors which affect work performance.

There is little rigorous evidence, however, for the benefits of adult literacy training and almost no accompanying information on the costs of this training.

While there is a good case for an increased focus on adult literacy, and on workplace literacy in particular, these findings suggest a cautious approach to expanding publicly-funded adult literacy programmes.

There is a clear need for more and better New Zealand-based research, for piloting innovative literacy programmes and for undertaking good-quality evaluations. A modest increase in literacy training may not materially affect economic performance.

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APA citation
Grant Johnston. Adult literacy and economic growth 2004. Web. 7 Feb. 2023 <>
Grant Johnston (2004). Adult literacy and economic growth. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from
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