Economic Returns to Speaking ‘Standard Mandarin’ Among Migrants in China’s Urban Labour Market
AbstractThis paper 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 paper 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 amongst 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. Another explanation is that female migrants are more likely to marry local men in the host city or have better verbal skills than men, meaning that they speak standard Mandarin with a less pronounced accent than men and, hence, suffer less labour market discrimination.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Monash University, Department of Economics in its series Monash Economics Working Papers with number 28-09.
Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
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Postal: Department of Economics, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia
Web page: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/eco/
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Other versions of this item:
- Gao, Wenshu & Smyth, Russell, 2011. "Economic returns to speaking 'standard Mandarin' among migrants in China's urban labour market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 342-352, April.
- J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
- J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
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