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A gender-adjusted measure of literacy


  • Sreenivasan Subramanian

    () (Madras Institute of Development Studies)


This is a very brief note which considers how to incorporate directly into the measurement of literacy a procedure for penalizing anti-female bias in its gender-related distribution. The ‘gender-adjusted' literacy measure L* advanced in this note reflects the cost of failing to achieve equality in the gender-distribution of literacy. The argument revolves around an ‘efficiency loss' that is attributed to the shortfall of the female literacy rate from the overall literacy rate, and which arises from the presumed foregone benefits of the positive externalities to be had from female literacy. Efficiency considerations, however, are not pushed to the point where inequality against males is rewarded. The gender-adjusted literacy index has been created in such a way as to facilitate ready comprehension of its intended meaning. The information required for computing the measure is undemanding, and calculation presents no onerous difficulties. The measure can find wide application in intra- and inter-national comparisons of literacy corrected for adverse (female) gender bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Sreenivasan Subramanian, 2011. "A gender-adjusted measure of literacy," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 31(1), pages 436-441.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-11-00052

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    More about this item


    Literacy; externality; equality; efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development


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