Study: Life-path outcomes associated with reading ability

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Related subjects

2010

Young people who had higher levels of proficiency in reading at the age of 15 had higher levels of educational attainment and income by the time they were 25 than youth with lower proficiency in reading, according to a new study.

This study examined life-path differences associated with levels of reading proficiency at age 15 as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment in 2000. Data examining educational, labour market, income and family formation outcomes associated with proficiency in reading came from the 2010 Youth in Transition Survey.

Reading competence was reported on the basis of levels 1 to 5, that is, lowest to highest, corresponding to tasks of increasing difficulty.

The study found a clear relationship between levels of proficiency in reading at the age of 15 and highest level of educational attainment a decade later.

Young people who had low scores in reading were more likely to have ended their education with high school completion or less. Over one-half of youth (54%) who had proficiency levels below Level 3 at age 15 had not completed any education beyond high school by age 25.

However, three-quarters of young people who had the highest levels of reading proficiency at age 15 had completed some form of postsecondary education by age 25. Nevertheless, 23% of this high-scoring group had completed no more than high school or less by the age of 25.

In addition, at the age of 25, twice as many young people with the highest levels of reading proficiency were still in school relative to those below Level 3.

Among young people who had made the transition to full-time work by age 25, 44% had the highest scores in reading at age 15, while 27% had the lowest.

Income varied with proficiency in reading. In 2009, young people with the lowest level of proficiency in reading at age 15 had an average annual income of $39,902. This rose to $42,580 for youth at Level 3 and to $44,155 for those with the highest scores. The overall difference from lowest to highest was about 10% of annual income.

Note: This article uses the most recent data from the 2010 Youth in Transition Survey to examine educational, labour market, income and family formation outcomes associated with reading proficiency levels on Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) at the age of 15. This analysis attempts to identify any life-path differences that were associated with reading proficiency levels at age 15.

Reading literacy is defined in PISA as "the ability to understand, use and reflect on written texts, in order to achieve one's goals, to develop one's knowledge and potential, and to participate in society".

Data from Cycle 6 of the Youth in Transition Survey are now available.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4435.

A second article in the June 2011 issue of Education Matters: Insights on Education, Learning and Training in Canada, "A Glance at the Participation of Adult Workers in Formal, Job-related Training Activities or Education in 2008" examines the participation of adult workers in formal, job-related training activities or education in relation to their demographic characteristics, occupation, employer characteristics, training objectives and learning obstacles.

The article "Life-path Outcomes at Age 25 Associated with Reading Ability at Age 15" is now available in the June 2011 issue of Education Matters: Insights on Education, Learning and Training in Canada, Vol. 8, no. 2 (81-004-X, free). From the Subject module of our website, click on Education, training and learning, and then Education Matters under Featured Products on the right.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-800-307-3382; 613-951-7608; fax: 613-951-1333; educationstats@statcan.gc.ca), Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics Division.