U.S. Adults Fare Poorly in a Study of Skills

Richard Perez-Pena, New York Times, October 8, 2013

American adults lag well behind their counterparts in most other developed countries in the mathematical and technical skills needed for a modern workplace, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study, perhaps the most detailed of its kind, shows that the well-documented pattern of several other countries surging past the United States in students’ test scores and young people’s college graduation rates corresponds to a skills gap, extending far beyond school. In the United States, young adults in particular fare poorly compared with their international competitors of the same ages—not just in math and technology, but also in literacy.

More surprisingly, even middle-aged Americans—who, on paper, are among the best-educated people of their generation anywhere in the world—are barely better than middle of the pack in skills.


The study is the first based on new tests developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a coalition of mostly developed nations, and administered in 2011 and 2012 to thousands of people, ages 16 to 65, by 23 countries. {snip}

The organizers assessed skills in literacy and facility with basic math, or numeracy, in all 23 countries. In 19 countries, there was a third assessment, called “problem-solving in technology-rich environments,” on using digital devices to find and evaluate information, communicate, and perform common tasks.

In all three fields, Japan ranked first and Finland second in average scores, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway near the top. Spain, Italy and France were at or near the bottom in literacy and numeracy, and were not included in the technology assessment.

The United States ranked near the middle in literacy and near the bottom in skill with numbers and technology. {snip}


In several ways, the American results were among the most polarized between high achievement and low. Compared with other countries with similar average scores, the United States, in all three assessments, usually had more people in the highest proficiency levels, and more in the lowest. The country also had an unusually wide gap in skills between the employed and the unemployed.

In the most highly educated population, people with graduate and professional degrees, Americans lagged slightly behind the international averages in skills. But the gap was widest at the bottom; among those who did not finish high school, Americans had significantly worse skills than their counterparts abroad.


Among 55- to 65-year-olds, the United States fared better, on the whole, than its counterparts. But in the 45-to-54 age group, American performance was average, and among younger people, it was behind.

American educators often note that the nation’s polyglot nature can inhibit performance, though there is sharp debate over whether that is a short-run or long-run effect.

The new study shows that foreign-born adults in the United States have much poorer-than-average skills, but even the native-born scored a bit below the international norms. White Americans fared better than the multicountry average in literacy, but were about average in the math and technology tests.

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  • bigone4u

    As our masters in Washington and in some of our state capitols push egalitarianism on us and as we are flooded with dumb immigrants from third world hellholes, obviously the USA is going to go down the tubes, on average. These results show that us older folks can still cut the mustard because we weren’t DELIBERATELY dumbed down to satisfy the diversity gods. Dump the egalitarianism, cut off the immigrants, and cut the black birth rate through foreced birth control and the USA is back on top since the USA white man and woman is as good as it gets.

  • So CAL Snowman

    And guess which developed nation consistency finished in the top spot in terms of literacy, basic math skills, and working with technology? Japan, a country of 127.3 million people who are 98.5% ethnically Japanese. I guess the Japanese don’t need any of that multiculturalism or diversity to succeed! How do the liberals and the multicultists explain that fact?

    • JackKrak

      How on Earth did they do that without millions of Mexicans, Somalians and Haitians to liven up their dull, dreary existence???? The tests MUST have been biased……

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        They decided to use robots to take care of their elderly and do other menial jobs instead of importing 3rd world scum to do the jobs the Japanese won’t do. They don’t want to end up like us and who can blame them?

    • QuinnTheEskimo9

      There are no Japanese Tim Wise types jumping up and down demanding Japan open up its borders to 3rd world Africa.

  • Spartacus

    “Spain, Italy and France were at or near the bottom in literacy and numeracy, and were not included in the technology assessment.”


    This is actually the biggest surprise for me. I knew France is going down the gutter fast, but Spain and Italy… I thought they were still in a better place .

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

      Southern Europe has been being hit for decades. They also rather famously, have not ever outwardly shown a deep concern for academic achievement, although France and Italy have produced some of the most important and important scientific and medical advances in modern times, right up to fairly recently. But both and including Spain have been really overwhelmed due to their proximity to Africa. If you think back, boats full of illegals have been crashing on all three nations southern shores for decades. They are being destroyed from within as are all Western nations, they are just further ahead in the process.

  • Spartacus

    Notice the name of the author of this piece – Richard Perez-Pena . Does nobody understand “irony” nowadays ?

    • bigone4u

      Yes, but Perez-Pena uses spell check, grammar check, and a thesaurus created by white men to make his writing acceptable.

  • William Krapek

    It’s funny how whenever Whites get dragged down by everyone else in the States we’re ALL Americans. Like in the arguments over gun control. And then smart whites like me wonder what the hell happened to the country.

    But whenever it comes to people getting what they deserve we can’t point enough fingers at evil White folks.

    (It’s also funny how when we talk about all those White folks in Ivy League schools we forget to mention that almost half of those “Whites” are Jews – and present out of proportion to their SAT scores and high school performance by a factor of *at least* 3 to 1. I’d say it’s closer to 5 to 1. And of the Whites that are left, most are women.)

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

      As to your last paragraph. This is the result of a long campaign by NOW to dominate all aspects of life in the West (for now, tomorrow the world).

      However, this will never occur. Rather than going on myself, I’d like to refer you and all readers to a great set of videos on Youtube by a WOMAN that advocates men’s rights. Her Youtube name is “girlwriteswhat.” The particular video lecture that addresses the impossibility and in fact collapse that female dominated society guarantees is “Femapocalypse.” Search it out and review it, everyone!

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        I don’t doubt it for a second, especially the part about social upheaval. Kids left at home alone to raise themselves, single parenting pass off by feminists as better and more natural, discouraging traditional marriages between men and women, promoting mixed marriages or encouraging childlessness and advocating for “open” and easy divorce.
        All this has been devastating to white children and has undermined our culture and society.

    • Le Fox

      Ashkenazi Jews actually have high amounts of white ancestry – which can apply towards their high IQs. Other Jewish groups have lower IQ, some on level with their Muslim counterparts.

      • William Krapek

        Yes that’s true. And as I try to explain to people, the overall Jewish IQ is only 98. And the Ashkenazim do not have an IQ of about 116. That’s from a ridiculously small sample. It’s about 108, and that’s verbal. And even that is topped by the Episcopalians. 🙂

  • Charles W.

    Hey now, don’t you know that “IMMIGRANTS” are what made America great? The fact that this country let in so many German and Scot “IMMIGRANTS” in its early years means that we must let in Pakistanis and Somalians now. After all, this is a nation of “IMMIGRANTS.”

    • QuinnTheEskimo9

      There are very easy answers to, “we are a nation of immigrants”:

      Ask ’em who founded this country then. What country did the founders immigrate to? Did it magically appear out of thin air, or maybe aliens built it?

      Remind them of the first immigration law, the Naturalization Act of 1790 that said, “any alien, being a free white person,” could apply for citizenship, so long as he or she lived in the United States for at least two years, and in the state where the application was filed for at least a year. Immigration was restricted until 1965 when the profoundly stupid and traitorous LBJ signed the non-white immigrant flood act.

  • kjh64

    Face facts. The USA has many more Blacks than these other countries and they drag down the scores tremendously. We also have far more immigrants and first born people, mostly from Mexico that drag down the scores considerably. Other countries that have immigrants, like Canada, have them from Asia and Asians do better. Don’t give me the nonsense that Blacks and Mexicans don’t have equal opportunity because more is spent on them than for Whites.

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

      I recall a conversation I had with a young Mexican female just before I left California for good. She told me about her high school, which was by then, about 100% Mexican/Hispanic. She said that they were at the bottom in State testing results and that they were proud of it. She really said that.

      • Katherine McChesney

        They’re proud of it because they don’t want to learn about White history in the U.S. A Mexican moved two doors from me in Santa Monica. I used to see her throw her textbooks out into the hallway. The first one was a textbook for learning the English language.

        • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

          Probably true, in fact, undoubtedly true. But they don’t seem interested in learning ANYTHING.

  • Garrett Brown

    You put third world trash in, you get third world test results.

  • IKantunderstand

    Why wasn’t Africa included in this? Or China and India? Since this country is turning into the ultimate diverse hell hole of the world, as are all historically White countries, all these studies will be moot. EVERY country in the world will suck. Time to rejoice, when all countries are completely equal. Equally stupid, failed, and degenerate. By then, no one will care about borders. What would be the point? The only question remaining? Will we be secular aholes, or Muslim aholes?

  • anew

    The OECD report makes for interesting reading.

    Scores are broken down by country, than sub-divided by age group i.e. age 16-24, 25-34, 35-44 etc. Most countries, as you would expect, show gradual improvement, each age group does a little better than its elders.

    Three countries buck this trend. In S. Korea the improvements have been dramatic. They are unique among those tested, as the Koreans are an intelligent people that only became a high-income country about a generation ago, so this makes sense. Estonia would seem to be of the same sort, but communist countries always do good at this sort of thing, so even their old people score pretty well.

    The US and England buck this trend in the opposite direction. It’s funny; overall England does better than N. Ireland, but among the young, N. Ireland does better. I think Amren readers know full-well why the US and England are moving in the wrong direction.

  • joesolargenius

    After Katrinia all the white men were working for themselves except the drunks and all the blacks were given fema jobs you know where 14 of them follow behind the mulatto whom is pushing a half empty wheel barrow. So as a Labor Foreman I would have to go out on the street and hire a group of whomever was there which was usually the illegals.
    I met a lot of them whom could not read or write in Spanish and were mostly Potheads with a elementary school education ,and they all believed we owed them something and thought it was okay to take souvenirs from my tool boxes when they left.You should have seen the look on their faces when Bush started rounding them up and deporting them in 2006, they couldn’t believe it as they had been bragging about going on strike all over the country before that happened.

  • Bobbala

    The very definition of insanity …

  • JohnEngelman

    When very few Americans graduated from college, or even high school there was a lot of unused intellectual talent in the United States. People with the potential to be professionals never had the opportunity to develop that potential.

    That can no longer be said. Too many Americans are educated beyond their ability levels.

    • MikeofAges

      Another loopy Engleman-ism. Except for those for whom specific arrangement have been made, all Americans are educationally disadvantaged. Not just minorities, but also whites. Especially whites. If thing that most people with the potential to be professionals are professionals you are seriously deluded. You need to take a long trip through the outback.

    • Bunky

      Do you include yourself in the group of Americans who are educated beyond their ability?

      • Katherine McChesney

        He’s brain-washed by the ‘oriental’ culture.

  • Sick of it

    World history (coupled with archaeology) tells you a lot more about racial realities than any purely race-based text I’ve ever read. And yes, American history is sorely distorted in this country by those who wish to destroy the America of the Founders completely. Just listen to the garbage they peddle…and compare to “European” socialism. These people are anything but American!

    • Ella

      It’s best to read older history textbooks found in an antique bookstore. Buy the copies before they disappear into the abyss.

      • Sick of it

        openlibrary DOT org has a lot of older texts online for free. They can be downloaded in .pdf format. And yes I’ve noticed older texts have more factual information while more modern ones are filled with propaganda.

      • bigone4u

        I have a nice collection picked up from Goodwill over the years that cost $1 each. The lack of PC thinking is refreshing in those older books.

      • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

        It is still quite possible to buy classic and excellent history books at places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Anyone that pretends to set out to be historically informed must start at the beginning at least for the modern epoch. That means reading Edward Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” You can get the first three volumes (there’s six altogether, covering a thousand years of Western History) in an abridged paperback form for less than $15.00. If you really want to be informed, then also read “The Histories” by Herodotus. The main key to any true gain of knowledge is to learn how to think critically, be objective and accept what all the correlating facts point to, unless until new findings, research reveal something truly new. This means that reading scholarly commentary is necessary as well. The risk to the dogmatic on either side is the loss of their assumed security of position. However, as far as whites are concerned, we come out of the fray pretty well, if not perfectly or nearly aligned with what many would be “white advocates” claim to be historic fact.

        • Katherine McChesney

          Try to order a set of books from the Folio Society entitled “A History of England” by various authors.

          • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

            Why? Are you saying that I will not be able to do that? Or is it that you recommend them? But I have a large collection of history books on all aspects of British history, social and otherwise and none of them are products of PC re-visioning.

  • Allan477

    One of the problems with US math skills is that, unlike most other countries, we still insist that kids learn to calculate with fractions. This wastes a couple of years for a skill we will probably never use in real life. Once we go on the metric system like the rest of the world with the exception of a couple of Muslim countries, we can do all our calculations with decimals, and US math scores will rise.

    • deadindenver

      Your looking down in the weeds, were talking what is innate intelligence of the population as a whole. In U.S. it’s been watered down by years of unrestricted immigration of peoples who have smaller hard drives so to speak. I looked at the core report and as usual the countries at the top end of the list are those that have the most homogeneous population.

      • Allan477

        Before you criticize anyone, you should learn the difference between “you’re” and “your” and “we’re” and “were”. By the way, I am a ninth-generation American who, 75 years ago, in the middle of WWII, started school speaking only German. A child who does not speak English at home is not necessarily at any great disadvantage. The only English he ever learns is correct English.

        • Katherine McChesney

          He probably needs a lesson in ‘they’re’, ‘there’ and ‘their’ as well.

  • PouponMarks

    Comparisons of Americans with other nationalities must be broken down by three groups to compare with others: Whites, Blacks, Hispanics. The last category refers to those of low IQ, poor, uneducated, from the slums or primitive hinterlands of Central America, and Upper South America. For those educated and acculturated from south of the border, the term Latino should be used. They adapt easily, are middle class oriented, and comparable to our own.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    I watched some of our “enrichment” on the news last night, demonstrating on the Capital Mall. They have learned to use the U.S. Flag as camouflage. I noticed on flag that was American on one side, Mexican on the other. One Hispanic female commented that they were merely immigrants like everyone else. “That is what an American is, and we are one of them.” But this study give the lie to that assertion. The fact is that aside from the issue of illegally forced entrance, immigration begins to destroy any nation when the percentage is as high as it has been since 1965. There can be little doubt that Emanuel Cellar (the writer of the actual 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act) and its lying sponsor, Ted Kennedy, had to realize that the eventuality of such a shift and enlargement of immigration would have to change the nation fundamentally. The more realistic truth is that it is converting the nation from a civilized society that was safe for a vast majority to one where law abiding citizens have regularly been robbed of their livelihoods (in the name of social justice), harassed politically for decades and now are hardly safe in any public place due to the policies and very government the 1965 Act guaranteed. Ted Kennedy and the Dems knew this; they knew that the grateful immigrants, further buoyed by various social assistance, political permissiveness (subversive organizations like La Raza allowed to exist and proliferate) would create Democratic votes that would guarantee an unstoppable Leftist monolith that could parade itself as a result of human rights advances and justice. The problem has also been that conservatives, Republicans have stupidly walked into nearly every trap they’ve laid.

    Conservatives simply don’t know how to pick their battles. They obsess over (legally) settled issues like abortion and hypocritical spending protests, all along missing the central issue that any clear headed thinker had to see would lead to where they are today, a party and group of dwindling influence and importance. Now whites are being murdered in the streets of Any Town U.S.A. because they are white and there is no political traction to begin to address this as a human rights problem or issue, but the rights of illegal immigrants is the next political issue on the list after the shut down and debt limit problem is solved, which they will be.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    You can’t dumb down the curriculum and supplant real subjects like Classical Humanities and History with Politically Correct re-visioning and purely political majors like “Women’s Studies” coupled with “Preferred Groups” plans that are aimed at handicapping or alienating white males altogether and hope to remain even with Northern European countries or any other achieving groups (Slavic nations have an edge as well, although Russia has a similar problem with non-white, backward ethnic groups). Add that to the overwhelming numbers from Mexico and other Western Hemisphere Hispanic nations and we have a very poor outlook ahead.

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    Funny thing is that the real story of Rosa Parks is that she was just one of many plants that the Civil Rights Movement planted as part of a strategy to irritate to get the desired response, as the outrages performed by “demonstrators” at the Selma March, etc., was planned through utilizing the Critical Theory method of social disruption advanced by the Frankfurt School as taught by Herbert Marcuse. They sure don’t teach about that in the PC curriculum!

    • QuinnTheEskimo9

      Rosa Parks was a LIE just like MLK who has been deified in modern America. The more we can expose about these lies the better, and this is why the Internet must remain free.

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    Takes about 10 years for the media and school brainwashing to dissipate so you are right on schedule. Welcome to our world.

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    Arthur Kemp’s March of the Titans is an excellent place to begin (history of the white race).

    Here are some chapter excerpts posted on line.
    http://marchofthetitans [dot] com/

    • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

      Sorry, but that “history” is full of 19th century historical and race theory that has long been solidly debunked. It is more propaganda than factual. There is no need to fill your head with junk that can be easily debunked and have yourself dismissed from any serious discussion or improvement of real historic discovery/information. We do just fine in the real historical “march.”

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        Do you have a source for the debunking of March of the Titans?
        I’d be very interested in reading it.

        • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

          Yes, Herodotus and every legitimate, vetted history book of Western history, including Gibbon’s “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,” Julius Ceasar, Conquest of Gaul, and on an on. In other words, if you were to just read the long accepted non-PC sources you would find that while whites come out just fine, there are some important myths perpetrated by March of the Titans. Further, anyone that reads this sort of stuff without a foundation in real history has no idea of what is factual or not.

        • Le Fox

          Kemp’s known for saying that Southern Europeans weren’t white. Some of his information is accurate, the rest is Nordicist wet dreams.

  • Hunter Morrow

    In the least shocking news you’ll hear all day, racially and ethnically homogeneous White and East Asian nations do better on IQ tests than CelebrateDiversityLand.
    America flunked its IQ test as a nation a long time ago. This is just one of dozens of studies to make it official.

  • Erasmus

    Idiocracy was a work of prophecy.

  • Le Fox

    I’m surprised Sweden’s so high based on its high immigration levels. I assume their good old Nordic blood still takes the cake.