New analysis probes economic costs of illiteracy

By Nicole Gaudiano for

ADULT ILLITERACY MAY DRIVE $1.4T LOSS IN GDP: The nation could counter those costs with the eradication of illiteracy — bringing all adults up to a level where they can interpret and infer information from complex texts — said Jonathan Rothwell, Gallup’s principal economist.

— Rothwell said his findings help quantify a well-known relationship between literacy and earnings performance at the individual level and GDP at the macroeconomic level.

— He conducted the analysis of existing data for the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and presented the findings on Wednesday at the foundation’s inaugural National Summit on Adult Literacy.

— The foundation also released a map showing literacy levels by county and the impact of literacy on health and income. More than 36 million adults in the U.S. lack basic literacy skills, according to the foundation, and there are many clusters of low-literacy counties in the South, particularly along the Mississippi River, in western Alabama and from Georgia up through the Carolinas. More from your host.

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