Links between literacy and life expectancy


The National Literacy Trust has recently published the first research report to establish a link between literacy and life expectancy in England through health and socioeconomic factors.

There is a staggering national gap in life expectancy between children from the areas with the most (decile 1) and least (decile 10) serious literacy challenges:

  • A boy born in Stockton Town Centre (decile 1 for literacy vulnerability) has a life expectancy 26.1 years shorter than a boy born in North Oxford (decile 10 for literacy vulnerability).

  • A girl born in Queensgate, Burnley (decile 1 for literacy vulnerability), has a life expectancy 20.9 years shorter than a girl born in Mayfield, Wealdon (decile 10 for literacy vulnerability).

Jonathan Douglas, Director of The National Literacy Trust, says 'If we are to truly transform the life chances of the nation’s most disadvantaged children, we must tackle low literacy one community at a time. The National Literacy Trust already runs long-term literacy campaigns in seven of the most deprived regions, cities and towns in the country, but today’s report shows that we still have a mountain to climb. We want to double our presence in local communities in our 25th year, and ensure that every child in England has the chance to live a happy, healthy, successful and long life, regardless of their background.'

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