Volume 94, Issue 97

Friday, March 23, 2001


3-yr. degree revision hot topic at Senate

Literacy linked to income

London and Western communities get together at the breakfast table

Calgary wants photo IDs for panhandlers

USC promises a fruitful listening tour

McMaster measles scare prompts clinics


Is it time to opt-in to the USC?

His Royal Mintiness

Literacy linked to income

By Raj Suppiah
Gazette Staff

A recent Statistics Canada report revealed some good news for university students and some bad news for arts and culture graduates.

StatsCan recently released a study that correlates the level of an individual's income with his or her education, specifically their literacy level, said Scott Murray, general director at Statistics Canada. The study used data from a larger International Adult Literacy Survey completed in 1994.

David MacDonald, a research co-ordinator for Human Resources Development Canada who helped conduct the study, said the survey and questionnaire-style study was answered by approximately 2,200 working Canadians aged 16 to 65.

The study found that each additional year of education, after secondary school, correlated with a rise in an individuals annual earnings of about 8.3 per cent. Of that increase, 3.1 per cent results directly from that individual's literacy level.

"Literacy has a large impact on earning," MacDonald said, adding the study was the first of its kind conducted in Canada and also drew on international comparisons.

Wage and literacy seem to have the highest direct relationship in countries, like Canada and the United States, where literacy skills are valued and demanded, MacDonald said.

Murray said the study tested an individual's ability to analyze complex charts, graphs, texts and theories, and compared the results with their level of education and economic status.

"Literacy skill matters," he said. "The concept of higher earnings being linked with university and college education is by no means a new one. We objectively tested the impact of literary and mathematical skills."

The StatsCan results also noted a large pay gap existed among arts and culture students. Murray said the numbers included graduates from disciplines such as philosophy, film and other fields.

The study showed that arts graduates with undergraduate degrees earned an average of $30,500 compared to the $39,150 earned, by the entire class of university graduates. It also stated that while 84 per cent of arts grads had jobs in 1995, most were not working in their chosen field.

Josh Morgan, president of the Social Science Students' Council at Western, said education cannot be measured in dollar amounts. "What you can contribute to your society goes way beyond your education," he said.

Morgan also added most students are in arts or the social sciences in preparation for a specific career relevant to their degree or as a prerequisite to professional programs. "The skills you learn in the [the social sciences or the arts] are not just for job training. You are acquiring skills for society."

Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, said arts and social science graduates tend to do very well in all periods of economic activity, but noted overall, there is a lack of support for cultural activities and opportunities in Canada.

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