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The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market

Author

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  • Ingo Isphording
  • Mathias Sinning

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Abstract

This paper uses data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) to study the returns to language skills of child and adult migrants in the US labor market. We employ an instrumental variable strategy, which exploits differences in language acquisition profiles between immigrants from English- and non-English-speaking countries of origin, to address problems related to endogeneity and measurement error.We find significantly positive returns to language skills and demonstrate that education is an important channel through which language skills affect wages of child migrants. Although the returns of adult migrants do not depend on education, we find that child and adult migrants exhibit similar returns to language skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Ingo Isphording & Mathias Sinning, 2012. "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2012-598, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:acb:cbeeco:2012-598
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/econ/wp598.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2008. "Workplace Segregation in the United States: Race, Ethnicity, and Skill," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 459-477, August.
    2. Alicia Adsera & Mariola Pytlikova, 2012. "The role of language in shaping international migration," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1206, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
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    5. Kossoudji, Sherrie A, 1988. "English Language Ability and the Labor Market Opportunities of Hispanic and East Asian Immigrant Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(2), pages 205-228, April.
    6. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2010. "Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation among US Immigrants," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 165-192, January.
    7. Angrist, Joshua D & Lavy, Victor, 1997. "The Effect of a Change in Language of Instruction on the Returns to Schooling in Morocco," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 48-76, January.
    8. Augustin de Coulon & Francois-Charles Wolff, 2007. "Language proficiency of immigrants and misclassification," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(12), pages 857-861.
    9. 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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    12. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-288, April.
    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Disadvantages of linguistic origin—Evidence from immigrant literacy scores," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 236-239.
    2. Ingo Isphording, 2013. "Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin – Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores," Ruhr Economic Papers 0397, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    3. repec:zbw:rwirep:0397 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ramon Caminal & Antonio Di Paolo, 2015. "Your Language or Mine?," Working Papers 852, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Language and Labor Market Success," IZA Discussion Papers 8572, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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

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