Monday, August 15, 2005

More NALS mysteries   posted by michael vassar @ 8/15/2005 04:44:00 PM

Having had some more time to digest the NALS study of adult literacy, I few more features of the results seem highly surprising or inconsistant with other information. For one thing, the NALS data suggests an absolute level of unemployment much greater than that which I have seen reason to suspect elsewhere. For another, the median weekly wagest seem far too low. If 70% of the NALS level 5 readers have professional or managerial employment, how can the median wage for NALS level 5 readers have been $650/week as recently as 1993? For that matter, among the NALS level 2 readers only 43% are employed yet 12% are managerial. Who could they possibly be managing? Another oddity is that there does not seem to be a national crisis of illiteracy driven immobility. Given the large number of people scoring at NALS levels 1 and 2, and the general complexity of the written/computer tests required to attain a drivers license, it would seem that a very large fraction of the population would be barred from driving due to functional illiteracy. This does not seem to be the case. More generally, the NALS data seems to suggest that one's neighboors lack abilities that one would deem essential to day-to-day life, such as the ability to deal with all of the bills, bureaucracy, and paperwork they are faced with. How can they possibly interact with the credit and insurance systems well enough to pay their rent? Does anyone here have any idea?