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The Return To English In A Non-English Speaking Country: Russian Immigrants And Native Israelis In Israel

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  • Kevin Lang

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Erez Siniver

    ()
    (Department of Economics, College of Management, Rishon LeZion, Israel)

Abstract

We use a unique sample of Russian immigrant and natives in Israel to examine the return to English knowledge. In cross-section estimates there is a significant return to English knowledge for both immigrants and natives with high levels of education. Language acquisition is an important element in immigrant/native earnings convergence, but most of this convergence is explained by factors other than language acquisition. These results are confirmed using panel data on wages and knowledge of Hebrew and English over time. The benefits of English knowledge vary across occupations in ways that are largely consistent with past evidence on language-skill complementarity. Natives and immigrants with high levels of education benefit similarly from knowing English. While immigrants with low levels of education do not benefit from knowledge of English, there is some evidence that native Israelis do. Conditional on occupation, the rate at which immigrants learn English and Hebrew are largely orthogonal. Therefore earlier work on the importance of knowledge of the host-country language (Hebrew) does not appear to be significantly biased by the absence of measures of English knowledge.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number WP2006-033.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2006-033

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  1. 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.
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  4. Christian Dustmann, 1996. "Temporary Migration, Human capital and Language Fluency of Migrants," Discussion Papers 96-21 ISSN 1350-6722, University College London, Department of Economics.
  5. Rachel M. Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact Of Mass Migration On The Israeli Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1373-1408, November.
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  7. 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.
  8. McManus, Walter S, 1985. "Labor Market Costs of Language Disparity: An Interpretation of Hispanic Earnings Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 818-27, September.
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  13. Eli Berman & Kevin Lang & Erez Siniver, 1999. "Language Skill Complementarity: Returns to Immigrant Language Acquisition," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 96, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  14. Dustmann, Christian, 1994. "Speaking Fluency, Writing Fluency and Earnings of Migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 133-56.
  15. Dustmann, Christian & Fabbri, Francesca, 2000. "Language Proficiency and Labour Market Performance of Immigrants in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 156, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. 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.
  17. Geoffrey Carliner, 1996. "The Wages and Language Skills of U.S. Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 5763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Mehtabul Azam & Aimee Chin & Nishith Prakash, 2011. "The Returns to English-Language Skills in India," Working papers 2012-29, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Antonio di Paolo, 2011. "Knowledge of catalan, public/prívate sector choice and earnings: Evidence from a double sample selection model," Hacienda Pública Española, IEF, vol. 197(2), pages 9-35, June.
  3. Antonio Di Paolo & Josep Lluís Raymond, 2012. "Language knowledge and earnings in Catalonia," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 89-118, May.
  4. Chr. Hjorth-Andersen, 2006. "The Relative Importance of the European Languages," Discussion Papers 06-23, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.

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