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New methods for comparing literacy across populations: insights from the measurement of poverty


  • Kevin Denny


This paper analyses levels of low literacy across 12 countries by using the International Adult Literacy Survey. We go beyond existing work that only looks at the proportions below certain critical levels of literacy. Using methods developed for the measurement of poverty we calculate measures of literacy that are sensitive to the distribution of literacy within those defined as illiterate. This reveals a different pattern of the extent of literacy problems across countries and within some populations. These measures should be useful to policy makers who need to allocate resources to alleviate low literacy and numeracy. Copyright 2002 Royal Statistical Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Denny, 2002. "New methods for comparing literacy across populations: insights from the measurement of poverty," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 165(3), pages 481-493.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jorssa:v:165:y:2002:i:3:p:481-493

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tim Callan, 1991. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Ireland," Papers WP028, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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    4. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 1999. "Assessing the effect of schooling on earnings using a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W99/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    5. Colm Harmon; & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of Economic Return to Schooling in the UK," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n540195, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
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    7. Tussing, A. Dale, 1978. "Irish Educational Expenditures - Past, Present, and Future," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number GRS92.
    8. Lang, Kevin, 1993. "Ability Bias, Discount Rate Bias and the Return to Education," MPRA Paper 24651, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Denny, K.J. & Harmon, C.P. & Redmond, S., 2000. "Cognitive Skills, Educational Attainment and Earnings -Evidence from the International Adult Literacy Survey," Papers 00/04, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
    10. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
    11. Callan, Tim & Harmon, Colm, 1999. "The economic return to schooling in Ireland," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 543-550, November.
    12. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
    13. Henry S. Farber & Jeffrey R. Kling & Alan Krueger, 1999. "Interpreting Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Returns to Schooling," Working Papers 794, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    14. Harmon, Harmon & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the UK," IFS Working Papers W95/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    15. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. repec:fth:prinin:425 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Hati, Koushik Kumar, 2012. "Can Poverty be Educated Out?," MPRA Paper 57374, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Rolf Aaberge & Andrea Brandolini, 2014. "Multidimensional poverty and inequality," Discussion Papers 792, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    3. Brown, Giorgina & Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V. & Waldmann, Robert, 2005. "Cross-National Surveys of Learning Achievement: How Robust are the Findings?," IZA Discussion Papers 1652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Micklewright, John & Schnepf, Sylke V., 2006. "Inequality of Learning in Industrialised Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 2517, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. James Foster & Joel Greer & Erik Thorbecke, 2010. "The Foster–Greer–Thorbecke (FGT) poverty measures: 25 years later," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(4), pages 491-524, December.
    6. James E. Foster & Joel Greer & Erik Thorbecke, 2010. "The Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) Poverty Measures: Twenty-Five Years Later," Working Papers 2010-14, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being


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