Apr 282011

Literacy levels in Mexico among those over age 15 have increased rather steadily for more than a century, reaching 93.1% in 2010. The Federal District had the highest literacy level, 97.9%, while the lowest levels were in Chiapas, 82.2%; Guerrero, 83.3% and Oaxaca, 83.7%. The gap between the Federal District and Chiapas is quite large at 15.7 percentage points (97.9% – 82.2%). In the decades ahead, do we expect this gap to decline or increase?

To address this question, we can look at the 2010 census which provides data on literacy levels for children aged six to 14 for all 32 states. To compare literacy among states, we can use the data on 14-year-olds, who have higher literacy levels than the younger children. Among 14-year-olds, the Federal District has the highest literacy level at 98.89%. States with the lowest levels are Chiapas, 96.27%; Guerrero, 96.86%; Oaxaca, 97.75%; and Michoacán, 97.79%. The gap between the highest and lowest is only 2.62 percentage points. This gap is far less than the gap of 15.7 percentage points in literacy for those over age 15 discussed earlier.

These data indicate two things:

  • The literacy gap between states is closing and closing rather quickly.
  • Mexico is approaching universal literacy.

A more thorough analysis of geographical literacy gaps would include rural–urban comparisons and levels of literacy for adults and children in various sized communities. In general, literacy rates in Mexico tend to be correlated with community size; they are highest in the large cities, and lowest in rural areas. We will undertake this type of analysis when the appropriate data from the 2010 census become available.

Related post: Females, males and gender inequality in Mexico


  2 Responses to “Are geographic differences in literacy declining in Mexico?”

  1. I’m doing a project on Mexican libraries, and I haven’t been able to find the first-hand 2010 census data for literacy. Is this a case of it being too soon for it to be released publicly? Where were you able to come across these statistics?

  2. Federal and state level data can be accessed via http://www.censo2010.org.mx/ – choosing “Educación”, about half-way down, and pdf for format.
    The third and fourth entries on the resulting list [“Población de 15 años y más por tamaño de localidad y grupos quinquenales de edad según condición de alfabetismo y sexo” and “Población de 15 años y más por entidad federativa y grupos quinquenales de edad según condición de alfabetismo y sexo”] provide basic literacy information.
    If you are looking for settlements within a specific state, then start the search at the first link, and select the relevant state, and you should reach a similar list of available information. Hope this helps! Perhaps you would be willing to share your information about Mexican libraries in due course? Tony

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