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Building on our Competencies: Canadian Results of the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey

April 20, 200620 April 2006

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Full report available at

This report highlights the “clear association between literacy and earnings”, based on a 2003 survey of the literacy skills of 23,000 Canadian adults. Overall, “Canadians with lower levels of literacy have lower rates of employment and lower earnings”.

Only 57% of adults who scored at the lowest level of document literacy were employed, compared with 70% of those scoring at Level 2 and over 80% of those scoring at the highest levels (4 or 5).

The survey results also “showed a clear link between high proficiency in prose literacy and earnings”. The link between literacy and earnings is stronger for women than for men. Less literate men have a better chance of reaching a higher earnings bracket than do less literate women: only about one-third of men earning $60,000 or more were at the highest level of prose proficiency, compared with about one-half of women.

The report makes an association between poor health, low computer usage and low prose literacy. In addition, “higher levels of prose literacy are associated with higher levels of involvement in various community groups and organizations and in volunteer activities”.

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