Correlation between Per Capita GDP and Literacy Rates in African Countries for 2008

A project done by Loren Scott for CALS 002/85 at the University of Vermont

Project Theme

This project focuses on the relationship between per capita GDP and literacy rates of African countries.  The data collected were from 2008, the most current information available.  The aim of this project is to answer three main questions:
  1. What are the adult and youth, male and female literacy rates for African countries?
  2. What is the per capita GDP for these countries?
  3. Is there a correlation of higher GDP leading to higher literacy rates?
This is a website that lists all of the countries in Africa, all of which were included in this project.

data source:     I decided to focus on Africa as the countries with some of the highest and lowest literacy rates are found here.  There is also a wide range of per capita GDP numbers and so I thought it would be an excellent case study.

I had visited Tanzania, Africa several years ago and my curiosity about their literacy rates as compared to their GDP is what got me initially started on this project.

image source:

Data Collected

Overall there were two sets of  data:  Two data tables and two graphs.
Table 1 can be viewed here
Table 2 can be found here

The two charts were the most interesting and informative portion of the data.

Chart 1 is a pie chart:

Chart 2: X-Y Scatter Plot


Chart 1 
  • Shows literacy rates of four different populations: Adult males, adult females, youth males and youth females.
  • Indicates that the younger generation has higher literacy rates than the older generation.
  • Demonstrates youth males as having the highest literacy rates.

Image Source:  

                    Chart 2

  • Shows correlation between GDP and literacy ratespicture
  • Trend line establishes a weak positive relationship between GDP and literacy rates
  • Supports hypothesis that higher per capita GDP correspoonds to higher literacy rates
data source for photo on right:


There were several main points established at the conclusion of this research:
  1. Youth males have the highest average literacy rates in African Countries
  2. GDP and literacy rates are positively correlated
  3. While it is uncertain if literacy rates effect GDP or vice versa, there is still a clear relationship

Related Links of Interest

E-mail me (Loren Scott) for more information or any questions you may have
Visit my home page to learn more about me
The CIA World Fact Book is an incredible database of information
Go here for a definition and more information on per capita GDP
This website has more information on literacy rates