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Language and Occupational Status: Linguistic Elitism in the Irish Labour Market

Author

Listed:
  • Borooah, Vani K.

    (University of Ulster)

  • Dineen, Donal A.

    (University of Limerick)

  • Lynch, Nicola

    (University of Limerick)

Abstract

This paper, using data from the 2006 Irish Census, provides evidence of the structural advantage of Irish speaking, relative to non-speaking workers in Ireland’s labour market with advantage and disadvantage being defined in terms of occupational outcomes. To the best of our knowledge there has been no systematic investigation of any advantage enjoyed by Irish speakers in Ireland and allegations of the comfortable middle class ambience of the Gaelscoileanna have remained at the level of anecdote. Since linguistic elitism is a feature of many societies and since Irish enjoys the constitutional status of the national and first official language of Ireland, such an investigation was, arguably, overdue. This is then compared to the structural advantage of Irish speaking workers in Northern Ireland and of Welsh speaking workers in Wales. Our conclusion is that after controlling for as many relevant factors as the data permitted, a considerable part of the difference between Irish speakers and non-speakers in Ireland, in their proportionate presence in the upper reaches of occupational class, was due to structural advantage. The major contribution of this paper is to lift the debate about the economic position of Irish speakers in Ireland above the level of hearsay: dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi.

Suggested Citation

  • Borooah, Vani K. & Dineen, Donal A. & Lynch, Nicola, 2009. "Language and Occupational Status: Linguistic Elitism in the Irish Labour Market," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 40(4), pages 435-460.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:40:y:2009:i:4:p:435-460
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    2. Mark Freel, 2000. "External linkages and product innovation in small manufacturing firms," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 245-266, July.
    3. Borooah, Vani K., 1999. "Is there a penalty to being a Catholic in Northern Ireland: an econometric analysis of the relationship between religious belief and occupational success1," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 163-192, June.
    4. Vani K. Borooah & John Mangan, 2007. "What Underpins Occupational Success? Race, Access, and Reward in Professional and Managerial Jobs in Australia," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 21(4‐5), pages 837-869, December.
    5. Borooah, Vani & Iyer, Sriya, 2005. "The Decomposition of Inter-Group Differences in a Logit Model: Extending the Oaxaca-Blinder Approach with an Application to School Enrolment in India," MPRA Paper 19418, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
    7. Joshua J. Lewer & Hendrik Van den Berg, 2007. "Religion and International Trade: Does the Sharing of a Religious Culture Facilitate the Formation of Trade Networks?," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 765-794, October.
    8. Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 1998. "Discrimination and detailed decomposition in a logit model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 115-120, October.
    9. Vani K. Borooah, 2001. "How Do Employees of Ethnic Origin Fare on the Occupational Ladder in Britain?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-26, February.
    10. Blackaby, David H, et al, 1997. "A Picture of Male and Female Unemployment among Britain's Ethnic Minorities," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 182-197, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Iarfhlaith Watson & Máire Nic Ghiolla Phádraig, 2011. "Linguistic Elitism: the Advantage of Speaking Irish Rather than the Irish-speaker Advantage," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 42(4), pages 437-454.

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