Literacy and Life Skills for Māori Adults: Further Investigation: Results from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey

Publication Details

This report, which complements Literacy and Life Skills for Maori Adults, investigates the extent to which the distribution of literacy among Maori adults is associated with a range of potential explanatory factors.

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

Date Published: August 2009

Please consider the environment before printing the contents of this report.

This report is available as a download (please refer to the 'Downloads' inset box).  To view the individual chapters please refer to the 'Sections' inset box.  For links to related publications/ information that may be of interest please refer to the 'Where to Find Out More' inset box.

Section 4: A model of document literacy

A statistical regression model of document literacy among Māori adults was constructed in three stages. The key feature of this process is successively adding in further potential explanatory factors. The purpose of this approach is to progressively build a picture of the way that different mixes of factors are associated with document literacy skills of the adult Māori population. In other words it seeks to explain variation in document skills of the adult Māori population in terms of concurrent variation in these other variables.

The first stage of the model includes the following variables as potential explanatory factors:

  • age
  • interaction between age and having benefit income
  • whether the respondent has wage income
  • whether the respondent has other income sources than benefit or wages
  • whether the respondent is employed
  • gender
  • whether the respondent is a student.


The second stage adds in the value of the respondent's income to the factors of the first stage. The third and final stage of the model then adds in the further factor – time spent in formal education.

These variables were chosen for inclusion in the model because of their associations with document literacy skills for the adult Māori population evident from the univariate analysis of Literacy and Life Skills for Māori Adults and also from separate analysis.

The following sections discuss the findings revealed by the model. We look in detail at the first stage of the model and then examine changes in the subsequent stages of the model. A brief discussion concludes.

Stage 1 of the model of document literacy

Stage 1 of the model of document literacy included the factors: age (and age squared to allow for a non-linear relationship with document literacy); the interaction between age and benefits (to allow for different age cohorts who have benefit income having different document literacy skills on average); whether the respondent has wage income; whether the respondent has another income source than wages or benefits; whether the respondent is employed; gender; whether a student.

Appendix Table 1.1 contains the standardised regression coefficients (and their errors) which form the model of document literacy. The coefficients provide a numerical measure of the strength of association between document literacy skill and the variable, whilst taking into account the other variables in the model. The estimates for the first stage of the model appear in the column headed Stage 1 estimate. They show that after accounting for all other factors in stage 1 of the model:

  • Students had higher document literacy skills than Māori adults who were not students.
  • Māori adults whose income was higher had higher document literacy skills.
  • Māori adults who had income from sources other than wages or benefits had higher document literacy skills than waged Māori adults or those who were beneficiaries.
  • When compared with those of middle age, both younger and older Māori adults tended to have lower document literacy skills.

Stage 2 of the model of document literacy

In addition to the factors included in stage 1 of the model of document literacy, stage 2 also included income. The estimates for the second stage of the model appear in the column headed Stage 2 estimate of Table 1.1. The findings for stage 1 of the model still held in the stage 2 model – that is regardless of level of income. The following two additional findings emerge:

  • Māori adults with higher incomes tended to have higher document literacy skills.
  • Māori men on average have lower document literacy skills than Māori women. This particular finding illustrates a progressive understanding of associations between factors.
    • When no other variables are considered, Māori women on average perform better in document literacy than Māori men. When the variables of the first stage of the model are taken into account this gender difference becomes non-significant. However, once income is added into the model at the second stage, the gender difference reappears. This seems to reflect that, on average, Māori women have higher document literacy skills than Māori men with the same income.

Stage 3 of the model of document literacy

In addition to the factors included in stage 2 of the model of document literacy, stage 3 adds in educational attainment (in the form of time spent in formal education). The estimates for the third stage of the model appear in the column headed Stage 3 estimate of Table 1.1.

Of all of the factors in stage 3 of the model, time spent in formal education was most closely associated with document literacy. Māori adults who had spent more time in formal education tended to have higher document literacy skills.

Adding time spent in formal education into the model results in only two of the factors remaining that previously were significant. These are:

  • the respondent having had income other than wages or benefits is positively associated with document literacy skill.
  • the interaction between age and benefits is negatively associated with document literacy skill. This reflects older Māori beneficiaries tending to have lower document literacy skills than younger Māori beneficiaries.

Figure 1 below depicts the relative impacts of the explanatory variables in the stage 3 model of document literacy for Māori adults. For each explanatory variable, an estimate of the standardised regression coefficient is presented together with a 95% confidence interval. The confidence interval straddles zero if and only if the explanatory variable is not significantly associated with document literacy (after controlling for the other variables in the model).


Figure 1: Standardised regression coefficients for document literacy Figure 1: Standardised regression coefficients for document literacy
Note:
  1. The data that this graph draws on is displayed in the Stage 3 estimate column of Appendix 1.


The only factors that are significantly associated with document literacy skill – as indicated by the 95 percent error margins of the estimates of the regression coefficients not overlapping with 0 in Figure 1 – are:

  • time spent in formal education
  • the interaction between age and benefits
  • whether another income source than wages or benefits.