Authors: T. Scott Murray
Collection: Research Materials
This paper is part of a series of documents that explain, in straightforward language, a number of online research documents from Statistics Canada. It is part of a project carried out by the National Adult Literacy Database (NALD), with funding from the Canadian Council on Learning (CCL).
In this case, the author summarizes a 1999 report that examined the level of literacy skills and social inequality in the distribution of literacy skills for young adults aged 16 to 25 in Canada and the United States. The report analyzes the extent to which literacy inequalities between youth from different jurisdictions in Canada and the United States can be attributed to differences in parental education levels, gender, immigrant status, and, in the US, ethnic group.
According to the report, Canadian youth on average scored one year of schooling higher than the average American aged 16 to 25. This difference in performance disappears once the effect of differences in family background has been controlled for.
The level of literacy attained by youth varies considerably across provinces and states. The difference between the best and worst performing systems is equivalent to three years of schooling. Almost all of these differences in literacy skills are the result of differences among the young people themselves – in their age, gender, immigrant status and parental background.