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Language and Labour Markets in South Africa

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  • Katy Cornwell
  • Brett Inder

Abstract

This paper considers the role of language in employment outcomes and labour earnings in South Africa over the period 1996--8. Our pooled cross-section comprises more than 160,000 working-age adults, and the analysis considers the decision to participate in the labour force, employment outcomes and labour earnings. After conditioning on a number of socio-economic and demographic factors, we find that having English as one's mother tongue is one of the pivotal determinants of employment and labour earnings. Allowing for language effects leads to a much diminished role of race/population group as a driver of labour market success and earnings. There seems to be little variation in employment outcomes or earnings across the different African languages. Copyright 2008 The author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Katy Cornwell & Brett Inder, 2008. "Language and Labour Markets in South Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 17(3), pages 490-525, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:17:y:2008:i:3:p:490-525
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jae/ejm037
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    Cited by:

    1. Casale, Daniela & Posel, Dorrit, 2011. "English language proficiency and earnings in a developing country: The case of South Africa," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 385-393, August.

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