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.
Let's do a test to see if I have more Brazilian or Finnish regular readers. There are 192 million people in Brazil and 5 million in Finland. If you were born in Finland, post a comment with the word "Finn." If you were born in Brazil, post a comment with the word "Brazilian." But if you were brought to this particular item by a link and don't routinely visit this site, please don't participate.
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.
I suspect the future will look more and more like a combination of Brazil and the old Ottoman Empire.