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The value of bilingualism in the U.S. labor market

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  • Richard Fry
  • B. Lindsay Lowell
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    Abstract

    Much is surmised, but little is known about the value of bilingualism in today's U.S. economy. The authors use the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) to provide the first rigorous estimates of the wages of bilingual workers. Although the nominal wages of bilinguals exceed those of their monolingual peers, this pattern largely reflects the higher completed schooling of the bilinguals. In fact, regression analysis shows that bilingual skills do not make a statistically significant contribution to weekly wages, once all workers' human capital characteristics are held constant. Thus, the market little values foreign language proficiency and creates no incentive to acquire or maintain it, doubtless contributing to the relatively rapid shift to monolingualism across generations. (Author's abstract.) (Free full-text download available at http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/ilrreview/.)

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School in its journal ILR Review.

    Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 1 (October)
    Pages: 128-141

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    Handle: RePEc:ilr:articl:v:57:y:2003:i:1:p:128-141

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    Cited by:
    1. Victor Ginsburgh & Jacques Melitz & Farid Toubal, 2014. "Foreign Language Learning: An Econometric Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4923, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 2006. "Why is the Payoff to Schooling Smaller for Immigrants?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics 06-03, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2007. "Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the U.S. Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Tobias Stoehr, 2013. "The Returns to Occupational Foreign Language Use: Evidence from Germany," Kiel Working Papers, Kiel Institute for the World Economy 1880, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    5. Jacques, Mélitz, 2013. "A Framework for Analyzing Language and Welfare," SIRE Discussion Papers, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE) 2013-21, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    6. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2005. "Computer Skills, Destination Language Proficiency and the Earnings of Natives and Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1755, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Paul Miller, 2009. "The Gender Pay Gap in the US: Does Sector Make a Difference?," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 52-74, March.
    8. Coombs, Christopher & Cebula, Richard, 2009. "Are there rewards for language skills? Evidence from the earnings of registered nurses," MPRA Paper 49646, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Donald R. Williams, 2011. "Multiple language usage and earnings in Western Europe," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 372-393, July.
    10. Barry Chiswick & Paul Miller, 2007. "Computer usage, destination language proficiency and the earnings of natives and immigrants," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 129-157, June.

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