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Economic returns to speaking 'standard Mandarin' among migrants in China's urban labour market

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  • Gao, Wenshu
  • Smyth, Russell

Abstract

This article uses data from the China Urban Labour Survey administered across 12 cities in 2005 to estimate the economic returns to speaking standard Mandarin among internal migrants in China's urban labour market. The article builds on studies that estimate the economic returns to international immigrants of being fluent in the major language of the destination country and studies that estimate the economic returns to proficiency in the national language among groups of people who speak a minority language. Importantly, we control for potential endogeneity bias in the estimates of the effect of language fluency on earnings. We find that for migrants as a whole, there are considerable economic returns to speaking standard Mandarin. We also find gender differences. While the coefficient on fluency in standard Mandarin is statistically significant and large for females, the coefficient on fluency is statistically insignificant for males. One possible explanation for this finding is that female migrant workers are engaged more in occupations which have greater contact with urban locals and hence the return to investment in language skills is higher.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 342-352

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:342-352

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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Keywords: Language Migrants China;

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  1. Margaret Maurer-Fazio & Ngan Dinh, 2004. "Differential rewards to, and contributions of, education in urban China's segmented labor markets," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 173-189, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Magnani, Elisabetta & Zhu, Rong, 2012. "Gender wage differentials among rural–urban migrants in China," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 779-793.
  2. Wang, Le, 2012. "Estimating Returns to Education when the IV Sample is Selective," IZA Discussion Papers 7103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Ivlevs, Artjoms & King, Roswitha M., 2014. "2004 Minority Education Reform and pupil performance in Latvia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 151-166.
  4. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China, 2001-2010: Evidence from Three Waves of the China Urban Labor Survey," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 50-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  5. Artjoms Ivïevs & Roswitha King, 2012. "The effects of the 2004 Minority Education Reform on pupils’ performance in Latvia," Working Papers 20121204, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.

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