The concentration of an illiterate population in the capital city is one of the common phenomenain developing countries, such as the Republic of Panama. Few studies have triedto examine socio-demographic factors and their effect on regulating the social space of literacyin the urban areas of developing countries. This paper, using 1990 census data at the neighborhoodlevel, tried to identify some factors concerning the spacial differentiation of literacyin Panama City, and attempted to analyze how the extracted factors affect the literacyrate.
From observing the spacial differentiation pattern in the literacy rate (Fig. 2), highrate areas, in the central and intermediate zones of Panama City, appear near the centralbusiness district and elite residential zone. Apart from the city center, high rate areasexpand along the two principal highways, la Carretera Transismica and la Carretera Panamericana.Although, in the area along la Carretera Transismica, the high rate area is interruptedin the north-east part of Betania, in the area along la Carretera Panamericana it extendscontinuously to the east fringe of Panama City. The low rate areas, in the central zone, correspond to the urban slums, such as Crundu, Baca la Caja, Panama Viejo, and MonteOscuro, which have grown out of squatter settlements. Moreover in the suburban zone, lowrate areas appear in the widespread zone of the San Miguelito District and in the Pedregal'snorth-east hilly zone. As mentioned above, it is hypothesized that this spatial differentiationof the literacy rate in Panama City may correlate with certain socio-economic indices.
To examine the relationship between the literacy rate and these socio-economic aspects, 22variables representing the population's economic status, housing status, and educational statuswere prepared (Table 1). Next, a stepwise multiple regression analysis was carried out.Six variables were selected as the independent variables (Table 2). These are the employmentrate, the patron rate, the individual income, the rate of housing built during 1980-1990, theschooling years, and the school enrollment rate of the population from ages six to fifteen.
To clarify the causal relationship between literacy rate and selectd variables, a pathanalysis was carried out. From the path diagram, which was composed from the literacy rate and economic status indices, it is possible to describe a causal relationship between the liter acyrate and economic status variables, although this relationship is not particularly clear (Fig.3). However, in the path diagram that includes educational status variables, it is clearfrom Fig. 4 that schooling years are the best explained as a dependent variable and as animportant direct influence on the literacy rate. The correlation of the literacy rate witheconomic development indices has been widely mentioned, and in this study it is concludedthat this relationship is clearer when observed via educational status, such as schooling years.
Two areal groups divided by individual income were analyzed separately to ex aminethis relationship with respect to differing development levels (Fig. 5). A strong relationshipbetween the selected variables was confirmed for the low income area (Fig. 6). For the highincome area, the same relationship was observed, but much more weakly, with only thepath coefficient of employment rate and individual income being worthy of note (Fig. 7).These results suggest the importance of economic, educational upward mobility in the lowincome area, and employment stability in the high income area, as critical factors in influencing the literacy rate.
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