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English language proficiency and earnings in a developing country: The case of South Africa

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  • Casale, Daniela
  • Posel, Dorrit
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    Abstract

    In this paper we explore the relationship between English language proficiency and earnings in South Africa, using new data from the first wave of the National Income Dynamics panel survey of 2008. Much of the literature on this topic has studied the impact on earnings of host country language acquisition among minority groups of immigrants to developed countries. In our study we analyse the returns to language skills in a developing country context where the dominant language of business, government and education is that of the former colony, although not more than one percent of the African majority population group speaks English as their home language. Our findings suggest large returns among Africans to reading and writing English very well, and particularly among those who have a tertiary education. We also briefly consider the implications of these results for language and education policy in South Africa in the post-apartheid period.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

    Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (August)
    Pages: 385-393

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:40:y:2011:i:4:p:385-393

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

    Related research

    Keywords: Language proficiency Earnings South Africa Language policy;

    References

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    1. Dustmann, C. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 1998. "Language Fluency and Earnings: Estimation with Misclassified Language Indicators," Discussion Paper 1998-120, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigrant Earnings: Language Skills, Linguistic Concentrations and the Business Cycle," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 152, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    3. Kossoudji, Sherrie A, 1988. "English Language Ability and the Labor Market Opportunities of Hispanic and East Asian Immigrant Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(2), pages 205-28, April.
    4. Sílvio Rendon, 2003. "The Catalan Premium: Language And Employment In Catalonia," Economics Working Papers we033410, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
    5. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
    6. Chiswick, Barry R. & Lee, Yew Liang & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Family Matters: The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Destination Language Acquisition," IZA Discussion Papers 460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Mwabu, Germano & Schultz, T Paul, 2000. "Wage Premiums for Education and Location of South African Workers, by Gender and Race," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 307-34, January.
    8. Daniela Casale & Dorrit Posel, 2010. "The Male Marital Earnings Premium in the Context of Bride Wealth Payments: Evidence from South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 58(2), pages 211-230, 01.
    9. Katy Cornwell & Brett Inder, 2008. "Language and Labour Markets in South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 17(3), pages 490-525, June.
    10. Daniela Casale & Dorrit Posel, 2011. "Unions and the Gender Wage Gap in South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 20(1), pages 27-59, January.
    11. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the earnings of immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
    12. Deolalikar, A.B. & Evenson, R.E., 1988. "Technology Production And Technology Purchase In Indian Industry: An Econometric Analysis," Papers 556, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    13. Michael A Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, . "The English Language Fluency and Occupational Success of Ethnic Minority Immigrant Men Living in English Metropolitan Areas," Discussion Papers in Public Sector Economics 99/4, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    14. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
    15. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
    16. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-70, April.
    17. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-30, April.
    18. Chiswick, Barry R & Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Hurst, Michael E, 2000. "Indigenous Language Skills and the Labor Market in a Developing Economy: Bolivia," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 349-67, January.
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    Cited by:
    1. Di Paolo, Antonio & Tansel, Aysit, 2013. "Returns to Foreign Language Skills in a Developing Country: The Case of Turkey," IZA Discussion Papers 7724, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Oh, Chang Hoon & Travis Selmier, W. & Lien, Donald, 2011. "International trade, foreign direct investment, and transaction costs in languages," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 732-735.
    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.

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