Functional illiteracy

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Adult illiteracy
Undeveloped functional literacy
Insufficient literacy levels
Inadequate literacy skills

A functionally illiterate adult can read, write, and do basic mathematics calculations, but not well enough to fulfil all the tasks society expects of him. He lacks the skills required to function effectively in his community. He may have received little or no formal education, or his formal education may have been inadequate to the point that he remained functionally illiterate.


An 1997 OECD survey of its 12 member countries stated that, depending on the country, between 25% and 75% of the respondents aged 16 to 65 did not have a literacy level considered 'a suitable minimum skill level for coping with the demands of modern life and work.' Sweden had the highest functionally literacy level, Poland the lowest. There was no statistically significant difference among Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, and the USA.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST