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Literacy Statistics 2024- 2025 (Where we are now)



The capacity to read and write, commonly known as literacy, stands out as a pivotal determinant in shaping an individual's career trajectory. Individuals with literacy skills have access to a broad spectrum of career possibilities, including highly skilled and well-paying positions. Conversely, those lacking literacy face severely restricted options, with even entry-level, low-skilled jobs posing challenges to secure.


Globally, the overall literacy rate stands at a commendable level. For individuals aged 15 and above, the combined literacy rate for both genders is 86.3%. Males in this age group exhibit a literacy rate of 90%, with females closely trailing at 82.7%. Notably, substantial variations exist between countries. Developed nations consistently boast adult literacy rates of 96% or higher, while the least developed countries struggle with an average literacy rate of just 65%. Accurate cross-country comparisons of literacy rates face challenges due to two primary factors: irregular reporting practices among countries, and divergent definitions of what constitutes literacy.


  • On average, 79% of U.S. adults nationwide are literate in 2024.

  • 21% of adults in the US are illiterate in 2024.

  • 54% of adults have a literacy below a 6th-grade level (20% are below 5th-grade level).

  • Low levels of literacy costs the US up to 2.2 trillion per year.

  • 34% of adults lacking literacy proficiency were born outside the US.

  • Massachusetts was the state with the highest rate of child literacy.

  • New Mexico was the state with the lowest child literacy rate.

  • New Hampshire was the state with the highest percentage of adults considered literate.

  • The state with the lowest adult literacy rate was California.



Where does the US rank in literacy?

The US ranks 36th in literacy.


The relationship between literacy and poverty

The nexus between poverty and literacy is pronounced, with these two challenges often interlinked. In impoverished regions, educational opportunities are frequently scarce, exacerbated by the necessity for struggling families to prioritize immediate income generation over sending their children to school. The majority of countries with the lowest literacy rates are concentrated in South Asia, West Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, regions also characterized by a prevalence of the world's poorest nations.


A discernible gender gap further compounds the issue of literacy, as nearly two-thirds of the approximately 781 million globally illiterate adults are female. This disparity is particularly evident in less-developed countries, where societal expectations often confine women to domestic roles, caring for the household and children while men pursue employment opportunities. In contrast, developed nations exhibit higher literacy rates with narrower, if any, gender gaps. For a comprehensive overview of global literacy rates, refer to the table below, which presents the latest and most reliable information available.


2 Comments


I am interested in knowing if a specific demographic of child bearing adults (18-25 male and female) are actually able to read to their young children. And/or, how many parents (including literate adults) really DO read to their young children?

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Only women bear children. Men are unable to do so, no matter what age they happen to be.


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