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The Economic Returns to a Second Official Language: English in Quebec and French in the Rest-of-Canada

Author

Listed:
  • Christofides, Louis N.

    () (University of Cyprus)

  • Swidinsky, Robert

    () (University of Guelph)

Abstract

Canada is a country with two official languages, French and English. The need for both languages in Quebec and the Rest-of-Canada (ROC) generates a demand for bilingualism and investment in the acquisition of a second official language. Knowledge of an additional language may be associated with enhanced earnings because it may reflect what might generically be called ‘ability’ bias or because it may actually be useful at the workplace. Until now, available data did not indicate whether bilingualism was actually being used at work. However, the 2001 Census reports, for the first time, whether an individual is bilingual and the extent to which this skill is actually used at work. Conditioning on both knowledge and use allows us to measure the additional earnings which accrue to the use of a second language more cleanly. We find very substantial, statistically significant, rewards to second official language use in Quebec and much smaller, not statistically significant, effects in the ROC.

Suggested Citation

  • Christofides, Louis N. & Swidinsky, Robert, 2008. "The Economic Returns to a Second Official Language: English in Quebec and French in the Rest-of-Canada," IZA Discussion Papers 3551, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3551
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gilles Grenier, 1987. "Earnings by Language Group in Quebec in 1980 and Emigration from Quebec between 1976 and 1981," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 20(4), pages 774-791, November.
    2. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-266, May.
    3. David Albouy, 2008. "The Wage Gap between Francophones and Anglophones: A Canadian Perspective, 1970 to 2000," NBER Working Papers 14203, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Zhao & Lu, Ming & Xu, Le, 2014. "Returns to dialect," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 27-43.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wages; language use; language knowledge;

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • 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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