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Isolated and Proximate Illiteracy And Why these Concepts Matter in Measuring Literacy and Designing Education Programmes


  • Kaushik Basu
  • James E.Foster

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • S. Subramanian


Traditionally, a society's literacy has been measured by the 'literacy rate' or the percent of the adult population that is literate. The present paper maintains that the distribution on literates across households also matters, due to the external effects of literacy - the benefits that illiterate members of a household derive from having a literate person in the family. The authors review this argument, draw out its policy implications and present some suggestive data from Bangladesh to lend substance to the hypothesis that an illiterate belonging to a household with no literates in more deprived than an illiterate belonging to a household with at least one literate member.

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  • Kaushik Basu & James E.Foster & S. Subramanian, 2000. "Isolated and Proximate Illiteracy And Why these Concepts Matter in Measuring Literacy and Designing Education Programmes," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0002, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Basu, Kaushik, 1989. "A Theory of Association: Social Status, Prices and Markets," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 653-671, October.
    2. Gibson, John, 2001. "Literacy and Intrahousehold Externalities," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 155-166, January.
    3. Basu, Kaushik & Narayan, Ambar & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Is knowledge shared within households?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2261, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Asfaw, Abay & Admassie, Assefa, 2004. "The role of education on the adoption of chemical fertiliser under different socioeconomic environments in Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 30(3), pages 215-228, May.
    2. Husain, Zakir & Dutta, Mousumi & Ghosh, Sriparna, 2011. "Contraceptive use among illiterate women in India: does proximate illiteracy matter?," MPRA Paper 30790, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. 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;National Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 27-52, March.
    4. Lee, Travis, 2008. "Benchmarking the effective literacy rate," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 233-239, September.
    5. Srijit Mishra, 2005. "Secluded and Proximate Illiteracy: Comparing Situations," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 70(2), pages 231-240, January.
    6. Motkuri, Venkatanarayana, 2013. "When Will India Achieve Universal Adult Literacy: Status and Prospects," MPRA Paper 48061, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Motkuri, Venkatanarayana & Chaganti, Ravi, 2012. "Achieving Universal Literacy in Andhra Pradesh : Status and Prospects," MPRA Paper 48617, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Aug 2013.
    8. Dutta, Indranil, 2004. "Generalized measures of literacy," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 69-80, July.

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