A Description of U.S. Adults Who Are Not Digitally Literate
Digital technologies are becoming more prevalent in daily life, both in the United States and internationally. The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) was developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to try and obtain an idea of the ability for adults to successfully participate in 21st-century society and the global economy. One part of the PIAAC measures an adult's ability to use computer technology in solving problems.
This brief uses data from the 2011-12 PIAAC study to analyze the digital literacy of adults in the United States compared to other countries. The analysis used a sample of 5,000 adults between the ages of 16 and 65 in the U.S. from different socio-demographic groups.
The brief focuses on three important questions:
- How do different groups of adults in the United States compare on digital literacy?
- How does the United States compare to other developed countries on digital literacy?
- How does the United States compare to other developed countries on computer use at work and in everyday life?
- Adults who are not digitally literate are, on average, less educated, older, and more likely to be Black, Hispanic, or foreign born, compared to digitally literate adults. Compared to digitally literate adults, adults who are not digitally literate have a lower rate of labor force participation and tend to work in lower skilled jobs.
- Compared to adults internationally, a smaller proportion of U.S. adults are not digitally literate. About 16 percent of U.S. adults are not digitally literate, compared to 23 percent of adults internationally.
- 74 percent of U.S. adults use a computer at work, 3 percentage points higher than the international average, and 81 percent of U.S. adults use a computer in everyday life, 3 percentage points lower than the international average.