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The Returns to English-Language Skills in India

  • Mehtabul Azam
  • Aimee Chin
  • Nishith Prakash

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.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/668277
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/668277
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

Volume (Year): 61 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 335 - 367

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/668277
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  1. Albert Saiz & Elena Zoido, 2005. "Listening to What the World Says: Bilingualism and Earnings in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 523-538, August.
  2. Robert T. Jensen, 2010. "Economic Opportunities and Gender Differences in Human Capital: Experimental Evidence for India," NBER Working Papers 16021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kevin Lang & Erez Siniver, 2006. "The Return To English In A Non-English Speaking Country: Russian Immigrants And Native Israelis In Israel," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-159, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  4. Angrist, Joshua & Chin, Aimee & Godoy, Ricardo, 2008. "Is Spanish-only schooling responsible for the Puerto Rican language gap?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 105-128, February.
  5. Emily Oster & M. Bryce Millett, 2010. "Do Call Centers Promote School Enrollment? Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 15922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  7. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the Earnings of Immigrants," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
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