Immigrants have weaker literacy skills than native-born adults on average and the gap is the equivalent of 3.5 years of schooling.
On average, about two-thirds of the difference in literacy proficiency between foreignborn and native-born adults is explained by how well immigrants have mastered the host country’s language and where they acquired their highest qualification.
Long-settled immigrants and those who arrived in their host country as young children have better literacy proficiency than other groups of immigrants.
Results from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) confirm that mastery of the host country’s language is essential if immigrants are to integrate successfully into their new communities and into the host country’s labour market. Given these findings, host countries could design and implement policies to provide language training to immigrants as soon as feasible after they arrive. This is particularly important for immigrant children, who can then attend school with their native-born peers.