Adult Numeracy: A Review of Research (2009)

Low numeracy worsens gender inequalities, geographic inequalities and economic disadvantages originating in childhood.

Adult numeracy is historically under-researched and under-theorised. A lot of the research that already exists is school-based and focused on the individual elements and operations of numeracy. 

Although levels of low adult numeracy and its outcomes are increasingly better understood, less is known about how to tackle the issue. Adults’ engagement and motivation when it comes to learning later in life are particularly challenging.  

Two researchers in the UK, Byner and Parsons, have particularly helped drive the debate around numeracy by demonstrating the specific relationship between poor numeracy skills and negative life outcomes – from employment to depression. Their and other researchers' work has increasingly demonstrated the importance of improving adult numeracy. 

JD Carpentieri, Jenny Litster, and Lara Frumkin. 2009. Adult Numeracy: A Review of Research. NRDC.