In Boston, Does Money Buy Literacy?

We learned a lot about ourselves this week, Boston. Namely, that we’re the fifth rudest city in the country. But before you curse me out for bringing this up again, there’s some good news: We’re also the fifth most literate city! Up from number 12 last year, according to a new poll from Central Connecticut State University.

CCSU researchers based their findings on six criteria: booksellers per capita (we tied Charlotte, N.C. for 45th) , education level (we’re 25th), Internet resources (we’re fourth), libraries (we tied Plano, Texas for 25th, newspaper circulation (we’re fourth), and the number of other periodical publishers (we tied NYC for second). Somehow that adds up to fifth place overall.

This year, lead researcher, Jack Miller, President of CCSU, also looked at the correlation between wealth and literacy and determined that for most American cities, money doesn’t translate into literacy. Here’s an example:

Cleveland ranks second lowest for median family income (among the AMLC cities) and yet, thanks to its great library system (ranked #1 in the AMLC) and strong newspaper (#6) and magazine (#5) circulations, it is ranked 13th most literate in the survey. On the other hand, Anchorage, Alaska, ranks fifth in median family income and only 61st in literacy.

The census places Boston at ninth richest, which perhaps means that literacy here is at least somewhat correlated to wealth — though many other factors (like school spending) would need to be considered to draw a iron-clad answer.

So what’s this mean? That rudeness and literacy go hand-in-hand up here? That’s probably just a coincidence, but here are the facts: We’re pretty rich, we’re very literate, and we probably do things like quote Beowulf when we’re cursing people out, which is all the time.