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Language, Employment and Earnings in the United States: Spanish-English Differentials from 1970 to 1990

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  • David E. Bloom
  • Gilles Grenier

Abstract

This paper analyzes employment and earnings differentials between Spanish speakers and English speakers in the United States, using data from the 1970, 1980, and 1990 U.S. censuses. The results show that Spanish speakers, both men and women, do not perform as well in the labor market as English speakers. The results also reveal that Spanish-English earnings and unemployment differentials increased slightly in the 1970s, most likely because of rapid growth in the number of Spanish speakers. By contrast, these differentials increased sharply in the 1980s, also a period of rapidly increasing supply. However, there is no evidence that the widening of differentials in the 1980s reflects an increase in the labor market rewards to English language proficiency. Rather, they appear to be the result of Spanish speakers having relatively little of those labor market characteristics, most notably education, whose market value increased dramatically during the 1980s.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4584.

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Date of creation: Dec 1993
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4584

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  1. repec:fth:coluec:452 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1983. "Labor Market Discrimination against Hispanic and Black Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 570-79, November.
  5. Gilles Grenier, 1984. "The Effects of Language Characteristics on the Wages of Hispanic-American Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(1), pages 35-52.
  6. 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.
  7. Rivera-Batiz, Francisco L., 1990. "English language proficiency and the economic progress of immigrants," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 295-300, November.
  8. Evelina Tainer, 1988. "English Language Proficiency and the Determination of Earnings among Foreign-Born Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(1), pages 108-122.
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