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What’s reading worth? OECD data on the economic returns to literacy

This OECD data records an average 7.5% increase in a person’s wages (8.8% for non-native speakers) for every one standard deviation increase in literacy proficiency, averaged across 24 OECD countries. That’s equivalent to slightly more than two-and-a-half years’ additional salary over a 35 year working life.*

According to this data the UK’s return to a one standard deviation in literacy proficiency is 12.9% and 16.8% for native speakers and non-native speakers respectively – equivalent to 4.6 and 5.9 years’ additional salary.

OECD (2018), “Returns to literacy skill for individuals, by language background:┬áPercentage change in wages associated with a one standard deviation increase in literacy proficiency for native and non-native speakers”, in Skills on the Move:┬áMigrants in the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris,

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