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The Strange Relationship between Literacy and Well-Being: The Results of an International Survey with Special Focus on Italy

Authors: Federica Cornali


Does education matter to the quality of our life? The results of extensive studies offer an affirmative answer to this question: high education levels are positively associated with higher income, with more highly qualified professions, with lower risk of unemployment, with better physical health and also, it is said, with more happiness. However, exploring these relationships is far from straightforward. Aside from educational credentials, what properties distinguish functionally literate individuals? How can their personal level of satisfaction be measured? What are the social mechanisms whereby education affects well-being?Using a literacy index and several measures for well-being developed by secondary analysis of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey database, this investigation examined the relationship between literacy skills and subjective wellbeing in several OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. Special attention was been addressed to Italy, and in particular to two regions representing territorial differences in this country: Piedmont and Campania.

Keywords: Life Satisfaction, Cultural Divide, Literacy Index, Subjective Well-being Index

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