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The economic returns to proficiency in English in China

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  • Wang, Haining
  • Smyth, Russell
  • Cheng, Zhiming

Abstract

We examine economic returns to proficiency in English in China using two waves of the China Labor-Force Dynamics Survey (CLDS). We find positive earnings returns to proficiency in English. We find considerable heterogeneity in the economic returns to proficiency in English across age groups, coastal and inland provinces, levels of education and occupation. We find that the returns to proficiency in English are higher in the coastal region, higher for women and evidence of education-language and skill-language complementarity. We also see differences in the economic returns to English between urban and rural residents and between rural-urban migrants and urban locals. Our findings help to explain why the demand for learning English is so high in China, as well as having implications for the Chinese government at a time when it is re-evaluating the importance attached to learning English in the curriculum.

Suggested Citation

  • Wang, Haining & Smyth, Russell & Cheng, Zhiming, 2017. "The economic returns to proficiency in English in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 91-104.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:43:y:2017:i:c:p:91-104
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2017.01.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Paolo & Aysit Tansel, 2019. "English skills, labour market status and earnings of Turkish women," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 669-690, November.
    2. Yang, Mian & Yang, Fuxia & Sun, Chuanwang, 2018. "Factor market distortion correction, resource reallocation and potential productivity gains: An empirical study on China's heavy industry sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 270-279.
    3. Song, Yang, 2018. "Intended and unintended effects of student performance measurement reform in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 133-152.
    4. Cheng, Zhiming & Wang, Ben Zhe & Taksa, Lucy, 2017. "Labour Force Participation and Employment of Humanitarian Migrants: Evidence from the Building a New Life in Australia Longitudinal Data," GLO Discussion Paper Series 106, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Antonio Di Paolo & Aysit Tansel, 2019. "“English skills, labour market status and earnings of Turkish women”," AQR Working Papers 201901, University of Barcelona, Regional Quantitative Analysis Group, revised Jan 2019.
    6. Mauro Mediavilla & María-Jesús Mancebón & José-María Gómez-Sancho & Luis Pires Jiménez, 2019. "Bilingual education and school choice: a case study of public secondary schools in the Spanish region of Madrid," Working Papers 2019/01, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    7. Wang, Haining & Cheng, Zhiming & Smyth, Russell, 2019. "Health outcomes, health inequality and Mandarin proficiency in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-1.
    8. Dovì, Max-Sebastian, 2019. "Does higher language proficiency decrease the probability of unemployment? Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-11.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; English proficiency; Education; Wage; Human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education

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