An INSEE survey makes it possible to identify the French people who have the most difficulties with writing. And it’s not necessarily who we think.

Writing is used and mastered less and less in France, particularly with the arrival of digital technology. A lifelong learning survey by INSEE and DARE, carried out among 16,200 people aged 18 to 64 and residing in France, paints a bleak picture of the population’s level of written French. in 2022. Participants were subjected to exercises in reading and writing words, but also in understanding simple texts. 10% of adults have experienced difficulty in one of these three fundamental areas. More specifically, 5% had difficulties in reading, 9% in writing and 10% in comprehension. Different factors were identified to understand which ones had the most difficulty.

First of all, depending on gender, the differences are tiny. “In writing, the proportion of men in difficulty (11%) is almost similar to that of women (10%),” the study indicates. Differences are however perceptible in the school environment: “on the other hand, among students, girls have significantly better written results than boys (results measured in school surveys, such as PISA)”.

However, the differences are more marked between generations. If popular belief establishes the idea of ​​a drop in level among the youngest, the study concludes that 6% of 18-24 year olds have had difficulty with writing and that this figure is more than double among those aged 55 -64 years old (14%)! “The youngest have a much better command of writing than their elders,” assures the study. INSEE explains this by longer studies carried out by younger generations. Indeed, the level of diploma also plays a big role. 35% of people with a college diploma have problems with writing. The qualifications of the parents must also be taken into account: 19% of respondents whose parents have few or no qualifications have difficulty with writing compared to 3% of those whose parents have higher education.

The study also highlights territorial disparities, as well as factors linked to social origins: residents of priority neighborhoods of urban policy and overseas departments have three times more difficulty with writing than the average (32%). These areas are more affected by school dropouts and illiteracy.

These observations are not without daily consequences. These people, for example, have difficulty using the Internet: 83% of people with writing difficulties have used the Internet in the last three months compared to 97% of the entire population. They are also less likely to carry out their administrative procedures themselves (61% compared to 85%). This can also be a handicap for small actions such as making or reading a shopping list, taking notes, writing an email, etc.