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A New and Easy-to-Use Measure of Literacy, Its Axiomatic Properties and an Application

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  • Basu, Kaushik

    (Cornell U)

  • Lee, Travis

    (Cornell U)

Abstract

It can be argued that just as there are different kinds of literacy, there are different kinds of illiteracy. A 'proximate illiterate,' i.e. an illiterate who has easy access to a literate person, is clearly better off than someone without such access. The existing literature that takes account of these differences (1) defines an illiterate person to be a proximate illiterate if he or she lives in a household with at least one literate person and (2) derives new measures of literacy which typically exceed the standard literacy rate. The latter risks generating policy complacency. The aim of this paper is to suggest a measure of literacy that is not limited by (1) and (2). The measure is axiomatically characterized and its use is illustrated with a numerical exercise for the provinces of South Africa.

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Paper provided by Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics in its series Working Papers with number 08-04.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:08-04

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  1. Basu, Kaushik & Narayan, Ambar & Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Is literacy shared within households? Theory and evidence for Bangladesh," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(6), pages 649-665, December.
  2. Lee, Travis, 2008. "Benchmarking the effective literacy rate," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 233-239, September.
  3. Mitra, Tapan, 2002. "On Literacy Rankings," Working Papers 02-16, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  4. Basu, Kaushik & Foster, James E, 1998. "On Measuring Literacy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(451), pages 1733-49, November.
  5. Gibson, John, 2001. "Literacy and Intrahousehold Externalities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 155-166, January.
  6. Dutta, Indranil, 2004. "Generalized measures of literacy," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 69-80, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Sreenivasan Subramanian, 2011. "Inter-group Disparities in the Distributional Analysis of Human Development: Concepts, Measurement, and Illustrative Applications," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 27-52, March.
  2. Iñaki Permanyer & Joan García & Albert Esteve, 2013. "The Impact of Educational Homogamy on Isolated Illiteracy Levels," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(6), pages 2209-2225, December.
  3. Esposito, Lucio & Kebede, Bereket & Maddox, Bryan, 2011. "Literacy Practices and Schooling: A Case Study from Mozambique," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 1796-1807.

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