The Global Prevalence of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is defined differently according to the cognitive biases, the political, educational, and social aims and purposes, or the cultural background of those who define it. Measuring dyslexia appears to be no different. Different national organisations give different figures for how prevalent dyslexia is in their country. Some of the measurements are simply estimates; some are based on measuring little more than reading deficits; some rely on discrepancies between different cognitive faculties.

The fact is, not only can different countries not agree on the rates, depths, and very measurements of dyslexia; but often, different states within individual countries cannot agree either. Nor can dyslexia organisations from within these areas always agree between themselves. Depending on who you read, it’s highly likely that the answer to the question: “How many dyslexics are there?” will not be the same from place to place.

The lack of certainty involved in the measurements of dyslexia can be shown by looking at the variations of figures around the world. In order to show one, single, universally-acceptable answer to the question of how many people have dyslexia, there needs to be one single, universally-accepted definition of what dyslexia is (which there isn’t), one single, universally-accepted standard of measuring it (which there isn’t), and one single, universally-accepted tool to translate findings from one educational, linguistic, and political context to all others (which there isn’t). Dyslexia itself looks different against different contextual backgrounds.

One thing to remember about the measurement of dyslexia is that the condition will manifest differently in cultures whose writing systems present challenges for those with phonological processing issues. To help plot this, below is a map of writing systems around the world.

Please right-click the image to enlarge.

Below, “official” statistics have been collected to show the breadth of findings from country to country, state to state, and organisation to organisation. Use these charts to compare their findings.

Australia. 10% – 20%

Canada. 23%

Czech Republic. 8% – 10%

Denmark. 3% – 7%

The European Union. 3.3% – 12%

France. 5% – 10%

Germany. 1.3% – 15.6%

Ghana. 10%

Hungary. 7% – 10%

India. 15%

Ireland. 10%

Italy. 4%

Japan. 6.3%

Kuwait. 6.3%

Latvia. 5% – 21%

The Netherlands. 5% – 20%

New Zealand. 10% – 14.2%

Nigeria. 20% – 33.3%

Russia. 5% – 6%

Saudi. 14.2% – 30.6%

Turkey. 0.05%

Sweden. 5% – 10%

The UK. 4% – 15%

The US. 5% – 20%

Figures vary, globally. Differences in estimates range from the lowest (0.05% – Turkey) to the highest (33.3% – Nigeria).

Figures vary, globally. Differences in estimates range from the lowest (0.05% – Turkey) to the highest (33.3% – Nigeria).

National Average Figures for Dyslexia Across the Globe

We must be careful when giving one single figure for the prevalence of dyslexia.