A recent Pew Research Center FactTank report by Drew DeSilver on the connection between the literacy rate of a country's work force and that country's productivity found that when a country's workforce is required to read and use other literacy skills to do their jobs, they tend to be more productive. Literacy is defined as "the ability to understand, evaluate, use and engage with written texts to participate in society, achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential." Productivity is defined as "output per hour worked."
The data are taken from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Survey of Adult Skills, a part of the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). This survey of adults between the ages of 16 and 65 in 33 countries is geared at assessing the key skills that a worker needs to prosper in society. Approximately 5,000 adults in each country were interviewed and tested.in areas of problem solving and reading instructions.
The chart above is a correlation matrix that shows the relationship between the two variables productivity and use of reading skills at work by country. The slope of the regression line on the chart indicates a positive relationship between the variables. The country with the highest use of reading skills at work and highest productivity is Norway followed by the US. The country with the lowest use of reading skills at work and the lowest productivity is Poland followed by the Slovak Republic. Italy has the lowest use of reading skills at work but still stands in the middle of the productive range.
Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/
"Chart of the Week: The literacy-productivity connection": http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/11/chart-of-the-week-the-literacy-productivity-connection/
Drew DeSilver: http://www.pewresearch.org/author/ddesilver/
OECD Skill Surveys: http://www.oecd.org/site/piaac/#d.en.221854
OECD Report, "Skilled for life?": http://skills.oecd.org/SkillsOutlook_2013_KeyFindings.pdf