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The Return To English In A Non-English Speaking Country: Russian Immigrants And Native Israelis In Israel

  • Kevin Lang

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Erez Siniver

    ()

    (Department of Economics, College of Management, Rishon LeZion, Israel)

We use a unique sample of Russian immigrant and natives in Israel to examine the return to English knowledge. In cross-section estimates there is a significant return to English knowledge for both immigrants and natives with high levels of education. Language acquisition is an important element in immigrant/native earnings convergence, but most of this convergence is explained by factors other than language acquisition. These results are confirmed using panel data on wages and knowledge of Hebrew and English over time. The benefits of English knowledge vary across occupations in ways that are largely consistent with past evidence on language-skill complementarity. Natives and immigrants with high levels of education benefit similarly from knowing English. While immigrants with low levels of education do not benefit from knowledge of English, there is some evidence that native Israelis do. Conditional on occupation, the rate at which immigrants learn English and Hebrew are largely orthogonal. Therefore earlier work on the importance of knowledge of the host-country language (Hebrew) does not appear to be significantly biased by the absence of measures of English knowledge.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series with number dp-159.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-159
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  1. Eli Berman & Kevin Lang & Erez Siniver, 1999. "Language Skill Complementarity: Returns to Immigrant Language Acquisition," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 96, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  2. Rachel M. Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact Of Mass Migration On The Israeli Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1373-1408, November.
  3. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri, 2003. "Language proficiency and labour market performance of immigrants in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 695-717, 07.
  4. Dustmann, Christian & van Soest, Arthur, 1998. "Language and the Earnings of Immigrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 2012, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-30, April.
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  8. 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 246-88, April.
  9. Dustmann, Christian, 1994. "Speaking Fluency, Writing Fluency and Earnings of Migrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 905, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
  11. Dustmann, Christian, 1996. "Temporary Migration, Human Capital, and Language Fluency of Migrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 1376, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. McManus, Walter S, 1985. "Labor Market Costs of Language Disparity: An Interpretation of Hispanic Earnings Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 818-27, September.
  13. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  14. Geoffrey Carliner, 1996. "The Wages and Language Skills of U.S. Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 5763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  16. Geoffrey Carliner, 1995. "The Language Ability of U.S. Immigrants: Assimilation and Cohort Effects," NBER Working Papers 5222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. LaLonde, Robert J & Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Immigrants in the American Labor Market: Quality, Assimilation, and Distributional Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 297-302, May.
  18. 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.
  19. Dustmann, C. & van Soest, A.H.O., 1998. "Language Fluency and Earnings : Estimation with Misclassified Language Indicators," Discussion Paper 1998-120, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  20. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 1990. "Language in the Labor Market: The Immigrant Experience in Canada and the United States," Working Papers 784, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  21. Evelina Tainer, 1988. "English Language Proficiency and the Determination of Earnings among Foreign-Born Men," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(1), pages 108-122.
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