World’s top 15 countries for booklovers

Researchers reveal having more books at home when growing up improves educational outcomes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A new study has revealed which countries are the world’s biggest bookworms - and Estonia leads the way.

Researchers at the Australian National University and University of Nevada in the US surveyed adults across 31 countries, between the ages of 25 and 65, and asked them how many books they had in their home when they were 16.

On average, Estonians owned 218 books per house, with a third of respondents from the country owning 350 books or more.

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The study also found that “having more books growing up, even if you don’t necessarily read more, improves educational outcomes”, says The Guardian.

The study established that the number of household books at age 16 had a positive correlation with literacy, numeracy and IT skills in later years - independent of how much tertiary study a person did, or how often they read as an adult.

They found the positive impact was greatest for those with higher levels of disadvantage, “meaning lower income families could narrow the education gap by exposing their children to more books in the house”, says The Guardian.

“Literacy-wise, bookish adolescence makes up for a good deal of educational advantage,” the report said.

In the paper, titled Scholarly Culture: How Books in Adolescence Enhance Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Technology Skills in 31 Societies and published in the journal Social Science Research, the team wrote: “Adolescent exposure to books is an integral part of social practices that foster long-term cognitive competencies spanning literacy, numeracy and ICT skills.

“Growing up with home libraries boosts adult skills in these areas beyond the benefits accrued from parental education or own educational or occupational attainment.”

The top 15 countries for booklovers:

1 Estonia - 218 (average number of books per house when people were 16)2 Norway - 2123 Czech Republic - 2044 Denmark - 1925 Russia - 1546 Germany - 1517 Australia - 1488 UK - 1439 Canada - 12510 France - 11711 USA - 11412 Ireland - 10713 Japan - 10214 Belgium - 9515 Chile - 52

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