Second most literate

Norwegians have the second best literacy in the world according to years of US research

Photo: Ketil Born / Wikimedia Commons When library access is factored in, the Nordics come out on top in literacy.

Photo: Ketil Born / Wikimedia Commons
When library access is factored in, the Nordics come out on top in literacy.

The Local

Norway was topped only by Finland in the new list. Rounding out the all-Nordic top five were Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden.

The countries were evaluated on what researchers describe as five core “literate behaviors.” These involve having a wide range of newspapers, a large number of public libraries, easy access to computers, and strong educational resources.

The research was led by John W. Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, who spent a decade analyzing literacy around the world.

He describes the Nordic nations as sharing a “monolithic culture” that “values reading” and argues that his list is more nuanced than studies that look purely at test scores, such as the global Pisa rankings, which measure pupils’ problem solving abilities.

“The Pacific Rim countries, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and China, would top the list if test performance was the only measure. Finland would be the only non-Pacific Rim country to rank high,” he said in a statement following the release of the ranking.

“When factors such as library size and accessibility are added in, the Pacific Rim nations drop dramatically.”

South Korea is the highest ranking Asian country in his list, in 22nd place, while Japan takes the 32rd spot, followed closely by Singapore and China, which just make the top 40.

The U.S. was ranked seventh while the UK took 17th.

A total of 200 countries were looked at, however some had missing relevant data, so only 61 were included in the final table.

Thailand, Indonesia, and Botswana claimed the bottom three places.

“What the rankings strongly suggest and world literacy demonstrates is that these kinds of literate behaviors are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economies that define our global future,” said Miller.

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the March 18, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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