Publications

The Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey: Age and Literacy

Publication Details

This report is the fourth in a series of four that investigate the initial results of the ALL survey. It presents an overview of New Zealanders’ skills in relation to age, and any changes since 1996.

Author(s): Paul Satherley and Elliot Lawes, Research Division, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: August 2008


Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report. This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads/Links' inset box, top right).
Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

Age Cohorts

This section examines this and similar questions.

  • How did the prose literacy skills of various age cohorts change in the decade after 1996?

Prose and document literacy are singled out for analysis in this section because they are the domains that allow cohort analysis (since they were part of both the IALS and the ALL surveys).

The progress of an age cohort over the decade beginning 1996 is measured by comparing those in a certain age group in IALS (in 1996) with those in an age group 10 years older in ALL (in 2006). The IALS and ALL surveys are not truly longitudinal in design, which would require the same respondents to be re-interviewed over time. However, the cohort analyses in this section provide valid measures of change over time in the populations the two surveys represent. The age groups analysed in this section are the cohorts aged 16−54 years in IALS, which became the cohorts aged 25−65 years in ALL. 

Prose literacy and age cohorts

Prose literacy skill was measured by both the IALS and ALL surveys, and its distribution among age cohorts in the New Zealand adult population is shown in Figure 10.

The age cohorts that were 25−54 years old in 2006 improved in prose literacy skill relative to their 16−45-year-old counterparts in 1996.

Figure 10: Prose literacy and age cohorts, IALS and ALL

Figure 3.1 Prose literacy and age cohorts, IALS and ALL
Note:

  1. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Figure 10 shows that the cohort aged 35−44 years in 2006 made the greatest overall gains in prose literacy skill since 1996.  Figure 10 also shows that:

  • for all age cohorts there were substantial increases in the percentages at level 3, while the percentages at level 2 were relatively stable
  • the percentages at level 1 decreased for those aged 25−34 in 2006, decreased substantially for those aged  35−44 or 45−54, and remained relatively stable for those aged 55−65
  • the percentages at level 4 or 5 decreased for those aged 25−34 or 45−54 in 2006, remained relatively stable for those aged 35−44 and decreased substantially for those aged 55−65.

Document literacy and age cohorts

Document literacy skill was measured by both the IALS and ALL surveys, and its distribution among age cohorts in the New Zealand adult population is shown in Figure 11.

Age cohorts in 2006 improved in document literacy skill from 1996.  The improvement in skills of 1996’s 16−24-year-olds in 2006 may indicate that the skills of 2006’s 16−24-year-olds will increase in the coming years.

Figure 11: Document literacy and age cohorts, IALS and ALL
Figure 3.2 Document literacy and age cohorts, IALS and ALL
Note:

  1. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Figure 11 shows that, as with prose literacy, the cohort aged 35−44 years in 2006 made the greatest overall gains in document literacy skill since 1996. Figure 11 also shows that:

  • for all age cohorts there were increases in the percentages at level 3, and for those aged  35−44 or 45−54 in 2006 these increases were substantial
  • for all age cohorts the percentages at level 2 were relatively stable
  • for all age cohorts there were decreases in the percentages at level 1, and for those aged  35−44 or 45−54 in 2006 these decreases were substantial
  • the percentages at level 4 or 5 increased for those aged 25−34 or 35−44 in 2006 and remained relatively stable for those aged 45−54 or 55−65 in 2006.


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