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Literacy news

New report shows illiteracy costing the world $1.19 trillion

29 Mar 2012

A report released today has revealed that the hidden cost of functional illiteracy in the UK tops $127 billion each year, the highest in Europe. The new report from the World Literacy Foundation shows that nearly 800 million people across the world lack the basic reading and writing skills needed to accomplish simple tasks such as reading a medicine label or filling out a job application, costing the global economy more than $1.19 trillion a year.

'The Economic and Social Cost of Illiteracy' looks at the cost of illiteracy in emerging and developing countries, as well as the cost of functional illiteracy in the developed world. The report shows that across the globe more than one in five people can't read or write, and more than 100 million children don't go to school each day.

According to the report, the UK itself suffers significantly from the costs of poor literacy:

  • 22% of the UK's population is estimated to be functionally illiterate, meaning they may have difficulty with basic tasks such as applying for a job, writing a letter to their MP or reading their child's school report.
  • Illiteracy estimated to cost UK economy approximately $127 billion a year (£81 billion)
  • This is the highest in Europe, ahead of Germany $61.70bn or France $44.28bn
  • Of the $127 billion annual cost to the UK, $36.8bn goes on welfare, unemployment and social programmes.
  • An additional $91.6bn is lost through lower personal incomes and business earnings.

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Tags: Adult literacy, Adults, Words for Work

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
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