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Economic returns to speaking 'standard Mandarin' among migrants in China's urban labour market

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  • Gao, Wenshu
  • Smyth, Russell

Abstract

This article 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 article 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 among 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:342-352
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    Cited by:

    1. Yao, Yuxin, 2017. "Essays on economics of language and family economics," Other publications TiSEM 0093bc8e-e869-4f87-8ff8-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    2. Yao, Yuxin & Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The Educational Consequences of Language Proficiency for Young Children," IZA Discussion Papers 9800, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Yao, Yuxin & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The Wage Penalty of Dialect-Speaking," IZA Discussion Papers 10333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Chakraborty, Tanika & Bakshi, Shilpi Kapur, 2016. "English language premium: Evidence from a policy experiment in India," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 1-16.
    5. Chen, Zhao & Lu, Ming & Xu, Le, 2014. "Returns to dialect," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 27-43.
    6. 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.
    7. van Ours, Jan C. & Yao, Yuxin, 2016. "The Wage Penalty of Dialect-Speaking," CEPR Discussion Papers 11610, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C. & Yao, Yuxin, 2016. "The Educational Consequences of Language Proficiency for Young Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 11183, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. repec:spr:izamig:v:7:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40176-017-0094-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Wang, Le, 2013. "Estimating returns to education when the IV sample is selective," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 74-85.
    11. Magnani, Elisabetta & Zhu, Rong, 2012. "Gender wage differentials among rural–urban migrants in China," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(5), pages 779-793.
    12. Yao, Yuxin & Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The educational consequences of language proficiency for young children," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-15.
    13. Wang, Haining & Cheng, Zhiming & Smyth, Russell, 2016. "Language and consumption," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 135-151.
    14. Artjoms Ivïevs & Roswitha King, 2012. "The effects of the 2004 Minority Education Reform on pupils’ performance in Latvia," Working Papers 20121204, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    15. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China, 2001-2010: Evidence from Three Waves of the China Urban Labor Survey," Monash Economics Working Papers 50-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    16. Ivlevs, Artjoms & King, Roswitha M., 2014. "2004 Minority Education Reform and pupil performance in Latvia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 151-166.
    17. Andersson, Roland & Nabavi Larijani, Pardis & Wilhelmsson, Mats, 2013. "The impact of vocational education and training on income in Sweden," Working Paper Series 13/4, Royal Institute of Technology, Department of Real Estate and Construction Management & Centre for Banking and Finance (cefin).
    18. repec:iza:izawol:journl:2018:n:414 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Language Migrants China;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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