>Improving the economy, and our health with one simple action – reading.

Improving the health and the wealth of the population can seem like a complex, almost impossible, task for governments. It may therefore seem somewhat surprising that a single inexpensive intervention could make a major impact on both. Believe it or not, the number of hours a child reads when young could significantly impact their health and wealth later in life, and also improve the economy.

Indeed, it seems that simply by ensuring kids read more before they start school, and most certainly in the early years at school, the economy and the lives of citizens could be impacted significantly for the better. How so?

In New Brunswick (NB), our students preform reasonably well on reading and mathematics when compared to other countries. NB reading scores for 15 year olds (PISA 2016) are just above the OECD average of 493 points at 505. However, they lag behind the rest of Canada, where the average score was 527 points. A similar pattern is seen with GDP, with New Brunswick showing a GDP per capita of CAN$45,187 (US$35,375) in 2016, compared with Canada at CAN$56,129 (US$43,938), and international rates as high as US$102,831 in Luxembourg (World Bank 2016).

Research from many countries has shown that the best predictor of future education achievement and life success regardless of socio-economic background is reading ability. And what is the best predictor of Grade 2 reading levels? That would be how much a child has read up to that age (Simplicity 2018). Not what they have read, just the total reading hours.

So the number of hours a child spends reading in their early years predicts their reading ability (learning to read), which in turn helps them read to learn through their school years. This in turn is associated with better earnings and better GDP per capita, which in turn is associated with improved health outcomes (Swift 2011).

So, if you want your child to be healthy, wealthy and wise, perhaps getting early to bed every day is important, but not before they have spent some time reading!

Let’s get our children reading early, and reading more!

 

 

 

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