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International Adult Literacy Study , IALS

    For details on all aspects of this database, see IES (scroll down for more online chapters) 

1. General description

    The International Adult Literacy Study (IALS) is a survey measuring the literacy skills of adults. The IALS contains information on 20 countries around the world, gathered in three waves from 1994 to 1998.

2. Survey type

  • Cross-national
  • Longitudinal survey, with waves in 1994, 1995-1996 and 1997-1998
  • Representative national samples of ages 16 to 65 (although several countries also sampled older adults)
  • Single core questionnaire (no varying modules)

3. Participating countries

  • 20 countries in total 
  • All countries of the 1994 wave: Canada, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United States
  • All countries of the 1995-1996 wave: Australia, Belgium, Great Britain, New Zealand, Northern Ireland
  • All countries of the 1997-1998 wave: Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland

4. Topics

a. Socio-demographics

    • Respondent: Age, sex, education, income, work and employment, marital status, socio-economic status, ethnicity
    • Partner:
    • Parents: Education, work and employment, ethnicity
    • Children: Age, education
    • Household: Composition, income, work and employment of household members

b. General

    Adult literacy, home background, educational attainment, learning or speech disabilities, reading, listening, conversation, mathematical and writing skills, language use, use of multimedia, cultural activities, development of skills at home and at work

c. Regarding work and welfare

    Educational level, training, financing of education and training, work status, occupation, reasons for working or not working, looking for work, health problems, income: from salary, self-employment, dividends, government sources (e.g. child support, unemployment support and pensions)

    5. Questionnaires available

    • Questionnaires downloadable in PDF format; from Abacus (under Data & Analysis)
    • Access is restricted

    6. Keyword search in questionnaires


    7. Data available

    • Datasets of the 1994 and 1996 waves downloadable in SPSS and STATA format from Abacus (under Data & Analysis):
    • 1994;
    • 1996;
    • 1998;
    • Pooled dataset downloadable in SPSS format; from Abacus
    • Free of charge, but for most data, access is restricted to the faculty, staff and students at the University of British Columbia
    • Summary statistics for the variables available; at Abacus
    • Free of charge, no registration required

    8. Online data analysis