TABLE 1-1 Percentage of U.S. Adults in Each Literacy Proficiency Category by Literacy Task, 1992 and 2003 (in percentage)


Prose Literacy

Document Literacy

Quantitative Literacy

Proficiency Category

1992

2003

1992

2003

1992

2003


Below basic

14

14

14

12a

26

22a

Basic

28

29

22

22

32

33

Intermediate

43

44

49

53a

30

33a

Proficient

15

13a

15

13a

13

13


NOTE: Data exclude people who could not be tested due to language differences: 3 percent in 1992 and 2 percent in 2003.

aSignificantly different from 1992.

SOURCE: Data from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (Kutner et al., 2007).

health when their literacy is low: adults with low literacy are much less likely to read to their children or have reading materials in the home (Kutner et al., 2007), and they have much more limited access to health-related information (Berkman et al., 2004) and have lower health literacy (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). Many U.S. adults lack health literacy or the ability to read and follow the kinds of instructions routinely given for self-care or to family caregivers after medical procedures or hospital stays (Kutner et al., 2006; Nielsen-Bohlman, Panzer, and Kindig, 2004).

TABLE 1-2 U.S. Adults in Each Race/Ethnicity Category with Below Basic and Basic Literacy, 2003


        Percentage
Below Basic
    Percentage
Basic
    Estimated Total
Number Across
Both Categories
(in millions)

Asian/Pacific Islander     14     32       4.1
Black     24     43     17.8
Hispanic     44     30     19.7
White       7     25     49.8
Total Number of Adults                     91.4

NOTES: The NAAL included a national sample representative of the total population in 2003 (222 million people; 221 million in households and a little more than 1 million in prisons). This estimate of the number of people with low literacy (basic or below basic literacy) in each race/ethnicity category is derived from the percentage of people in each category in the NAAL survey. The table does not include the 3 percent of adults who could not participate in the survey due to language spoken or disabilities. It does not include 2 percent of respondents who identified multiple races. These findings are for prose literacy; the pattern of findings is similar for document literacy. For definitions of the literacy categories, see text.

SOURCE: Data from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (Kutner et al., 2007).



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