Illiteracy Rates by Region

May 25, 2011

Historically, literacy has been much higher in Northern Italy than in the more rural South, but that gap has been narrowing steadily since the 19th century and is now almost completely closed, with the younger generations everywhere being >98% literate like the rest of the developed world.*

In the table below, column one shows regional illiteracy rates for people under the age of 65, which are nearly the same throughout Italy. Column two shows people 65 and over, where the gap still persists. And column three shows the total population. The data was compiled by Istat for the 2001 census.

Vincenzo D'Aprile. "Analfabetismo: Italia — Censimento 2001: Cinque Grandi Ripartizioni Geografiche e Venti Regioni". Educazione&Scuola, 2005.

*According to Felice and Giugliano (2011): "The reason literacy was so low in the Southern regions was that, until 1861, they formed a different state, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, which did not promote compulsory education, unlike the pre-unitarian states of Northern Italy. Once compulsory education was extended to the South (from 1861) and after adequate financial resources were spent for its provision by the Italian State (from 1911), the Southern regions converged in literacy."


Crimson Guard said...

Interesting piece here on France from 1908:

King Cookie said...

eek! analphabetism rate was definitely higher in the South as of 1861, with 91% in Sardinia, 90% in Calabria and Sicily against 57% in Piedmont and 60% in Lombardy.

All'indomani dell'unificazione, nel 1861, l'Italia contava una media del 78% di analfabeti con punte massime del 91% in Sardegna e del 90% in Calabria e Sicilia, bilanciata dai valori minimi del 57% in Piemonte e del 60% in Lombardia. (Sandra Chistolini, Comparazione e sperimentazione in pedagogia, Franco Angeli, Milano, 2001, pag. 46)

Crimson Guard said...

Russia appeared just as bad there.
The USA also had fluctuating percentages of illiteracy during the 1870's: