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The acquisition and labor market value of four English skills: new evidence from NALS

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  • A. Gonzalez

Abstract

This study investigates the factors related to proficiency in understanding, speaking, reading, and writing English among immigrants using data from the 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS). It also investigates the earnings-English relationship for each of these four skills to establish which is more valuable in the labor market. English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, education, and years in the United States are found especially to affect English proficiency. Furthermore, the returns on oral proficiency are greater than the returns on literacy skills, although writing skills are more valuable than reading skills. The study concludes that English acquisition is a dynamic process, rather than static as argued by supporters of English-only legislation. An increased role for ESL courses in the acquisition of English is suggested as an alternative policy to English-only laws as long as the marginal cost is less than the marginal benefit. Copyright 2000 Western Economic Association International.

Suggested Citation

  • A. Gonzalez, 2000. "The acquisition and labor market value of four English skills: new evidence from NALS," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 259-269, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:coecpo:v:18:y:2000:i:3:p:259-269
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    File URL: http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1465-7287.2000.tb00023.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George J. Borjas, 1995. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 3-22, Spring.
    2. repec:cdl:ucsbec:1-96 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Rivera-Batiz, Francisco L., 1990. "English language proficiency and the economic progress of immigrants," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 295-300, November.
    4. Gonzalez, Arturo, 1998. "Mexican Enclaves and the Price of Culture," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 273-291, March.
    5. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-170, April.
    6. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Disadvantages of linguistic origin—Evidence from immigrant literacy scores," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 236-239.
    2. repec:zbw:rwirep:0397 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Christopher Jepsen, 2010. "Bilingual Education and English Proficiency," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 5(2), pages 200-227, April.
    4. LUIS LOCAY & TRACY L. REGAN & ARTHUR M. DIAMOND Jr, 2013. "The Effects Of Spanish-Language Background On Completed Schooling And Aptitude Test Scores," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 527-562, January.
    5. Peter Schaeffer, 2005. "Human capital, migration strategy, and brain drain," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(3), pages 319-335.
    6. Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso & Gonzalez, Arturo & Neumann, Todd C., 2007. "Estimating the Effects of Length of Exposure to a Training Program: The Case of Job Corps," IZA Discussion Papers 2846, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Alfonso Flores-Lagunes & Arturo Gonzalez & Todd C. Neumann, 2007. "Estimating the Effects of Length of Exposure to a Training Program: The Case of Job Corps," Working Papers 1042, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    8. Jutta Hoehne & Ines Michalowski, 2016. "Long-Term Effects of Language Course Timing on Language Acquisition and Social Contacts: Turkish and Moroccan Immigrants in Western Europe," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 133-162, March.
    9. Ingo Isphording, 2013. "Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin – Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores," Ruhr Economic Papers 0397, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

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