new article on literacy, numeracy, & health

Just wanted to let you know that Shannon Monnat & I published a new article on literacy, numeracy, & health among immigrants vs. non-immigrants in PLOS ONE. This was in response to OCTAE & NICHD's recent (and ongoing) call for papers on PIAAC data.

Examining Associations between Self-Rated Health and Proficiency in Literacy and Numeracy among Immigrants and U.S.-Born Adults: Evidence from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).  

Abstract:  This paper uses data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) to analyze the relationship between self-reported health (SRH) and literacy and numeracy proficiency for immigrants compared to U.S.-born respondents and for Hispanic versus Asian immigrants. The research questions were: (1) Are literacy and numeracy scores associated with adults’ SRH? (2) Are associations between SRH and literacy and numeracy proficiency moderated by immigrant status? (3) Among immigrants, are literacy and numeracy scores more strongly associated with SRH for Hispanics versus Asians? Immigrants had significantly lower literacy and numeracy scores, yet reported better health than U.S.-born respondents. Ordinal logistic regression analyses showed that literacy and numeracy were both positively related to SRH for immigrants and U.S.-born adults, and should therefore be viewed as part of the growing evidence that literacy is an independent and significant social determinant of health. Second, U.S.-born and immigrant adults accrued similarly positive health benefits from stronger literacy and numeracy skills. Third, although Hispanic immigrants were more disadvantaged than Asian immigrants on almost all socioeconomic characteristics and had significantly lower literacy and numeracy scores and worse SRH than Asian immigrants, both Hispanic and Asian immigrants experienced similar positive health returns from literacy and numeracy proficiency. These findings underscore the potential health benefits of providing adult basic education instruction, particularly for immigrants with the least formal schooling and fewest socioeconomic resources.

Please share with interested colleagues.



Esther Prins, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Co-Director
Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy (
Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy (

Adult Education Program
Pennsylvania State University
305B Keller Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-0128 (fax)


Dear Esther:

Thank you so much for posting the abstract and link to your article.  It is so important to mine the health associations in the PIAAC data.  Were you and Shannon surprised by aspects of your findings?

For more information, see the extended Call for Research Papers and visit the PIAAC Results Portal.

Cynthia (

Health Literacy Moderator