Tyler Cowen points out that in the Nation of the Future:
"Most Brazilians do not read. I don't mean they can't read, I mean they don't read for leisure so much. I was stuck at the Sao Paulo airport for seven hours and did not see a single person reading a book, not once."Various commenters chime in with similar stories.
Personally, I have one regular correspondent who used to live in Brazil, but he's of Dutch background and now lives in Canada. In contrast, I have quite a few correspondents from Finland, a country with a few percent of Brazil's population. Granted, most younger Finns are literate in English, while most Brazilians are not, but still ...
Here are some amazing statistics from the big PISA international achievement test of 15 year olds in 2000 (Figure 2.3):
In Brazil, only 4% of the youths read at one of the two highest levels on a six point scale, versus 33% in the USA and 50% in top-rated Finland. Brazil is even worse than Mexico, where 7% can read at a strong level.
Brazilians, however, seem to enjoy themselves.
I suspect the future will look more and more like a combination of Brazil and the old Ottoman Empire.