New Delhi:  Illiteracy is costing Indian economy more than USD 53 billion a year, a report has estimated. According to the report titled 'Economic and Social Cost of Illiteracy' by World Literacy Foundation, illiteracy costs India an estimated USD 53.56 billion.

The losses to China are pegged higher at USD 135.60 billion. Russia at USD 28.48 billion and Brazil at USD 27.41 are placed at the third and fourth places respectively.

Literates constituted 74 percent of the total population in India aged seven and above, and illiterates form 26 percent, as per the provisional data of the 2011 census.

The report, which looks at the cost of illiteracy in emerging and developing countries, as well as the cost of functional illiteracy in the developed world, said that illiteracy costs the global economy more than USD 1.19 trillion a year.

"800 million people across the world lack the basic reading and writing skills needed to accomplish simple tasks such as reading a medicine label or filling out a job application, costing the global economy more than USD 1.19 trillion a year," the report said.

The report said illiterate people earn 30-42 percent less than their literate counterparts.

"We need to treat illiteracy as a disease that we are aiming to eradicate. We need to understand that early intervention can avert a lifetime of hardship, poverty and pain for a child, young person or adult who is struggling to read or write," World Literacy Trust CEO Andrew Kay said.

"No matter whether you live in the developed or developing world, poor illiteracy is ruining lives and is linked with an array of poor life outcomes, such as poverty, unemployment, social exclusion, crime and long term illness," he added.