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The Returns to English-Language Skills in India

Author

Listed:
  • Mehtabul Azam
  • Aimee Chin
  • Nishith Prakash

Abstract

India's colonial legacy and linguistic diversity give English an important role in its economy, and this role has expanded due to globalization in recent decades. In this study, we use individual-level data from the 2005 India Human Development Survey to quantify the effects of English-language skills on wages. After controlling for age, social group, schooling, geography, and proxies for ability, we find that hourly wages are on average 34% higher for men who speak fluent English and 13% higher for men who speak a little English relative to men who do not speak English. The return to fluent English is as large as the return to completing secondary school and half as large as the return to completing a bachelor's degree. In addition, we find that more experienced and more educated workers receive higher returns to English. The complementarity between English skills and education appears to have strengthened over time--only the more educated among young workers receive a premium for English-speaking ability, whereas older workers across all education groups do.

Suggested Citation

  • Mehtabul Azam & Aimee Chin & Nishith Prakash, 2013. "The Returns to English-Language Skills in India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(2), pages 335-367.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/668277
    DOI: 10.1086/668277
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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