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Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the US Labor Market

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Author Info

  • Barry R Chiswick

    (Department of Economics, The University of Illinois at Chicago and The IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor)

  • Paul W Miller

    (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia)

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the English language requirements (both level and importance) of occupations in the United States, as measured by the O*NET database. These scores are linked to microdata on employed adult (aged 25 to 64) males, both native born and foreign born, as reported in the 2000 Census, one percent sample. Working in an occupation that requires greater English language skills, whether measured by the level of these skills or the importance of English for performing the job, has a large effect on earnings among the native born, and an even larger effect among the foreign born. This effect is reduced by 50 percent, but is still large, when worker characteristics, including their own English language skills, are held constant. Earnings increase with the respondent’s own proficiency in English, with the English proficiency required for the occupation, and when those with high levels of proficiency work in jobs requiring English language skills (interaction effect). There is, therefore, a strong economic incentive for the matching of worker’s English skills and the occupation’s requirements, and this matching does tend to occur in the labor market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion / Working Papers with number 07-06.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uwa:wpaper:07-06

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Keywords: English Language; Earnings; Occupation; Immigrants; Schooling;

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  1. Johnson, George & Solon, Gary, 1986. "Estimates of the Direct Effects of Comparable Worth Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1117-25, December.
  2. Richard Fry & B. Lindsay Lowell, 2003. "The value of bilingualism in the U.S. labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(1), pages 128-141, October.
  3. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  4. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," NBER Working Papers 9732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hartog, Joop & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1993. "Public and private sector wages in the Netherlands," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 97-114, January.
  6. Xin Meng & Robert G. Gregory, 2005. "Intermarriage and the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 135-176, January.
  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.
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