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Plos One

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Reading Literacy -- New Zealand


Education and literacy have long been associated with a range of economic and social outcomes in industrialized societies. Recent research based on large-scale national and international surveys has examined effects of education and literacy on individuals’ social and economic outcomes. This paper takes a further step in understanding the importance of literacy for individuals’ economic and social outcomes by disentangling the effects of two different aspects of literacy, literacy proficiency as measured by standardized tests and reading engagement as measured by self-reports of everyday reading activities. Using recent nationally representative survey data from New Zealand, multivariate regression models estimate the effects of reading engagement on earnings, health, social trust, political efficacy and civic engagement. Reading engagement has statistical and substantial positive effects on each of these outcomes with the effects of literacy proficiency, education and other important variables held constant. Although these results do not imply a causal relationship between reading engagement and the outcomes, they have important implications for policy and practice in adult education as well as for future research about the role of reading engagement in wellbeing more generally.


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