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Returns to Foreign Language Skills in a Developing Country: The Case of Turkey

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  • Antonio Di Paolo

    () (AQR-IREA, Universitat de Barcelona)

  • Aysit Tansel

    () (Middle East Technical University, IZA & ERF)

Abstract

Foreign language skills represent a form of human capital that can be rewarded in the labor market. Drawing on data from the Adult Education Survey of 2007, this is the first study estimating returns to foreign language skills in Turkey. We contribute to the literature on the economic value of language knowledge, with a special focus on a country characterized by fast economic and social development. Although English is the most widely spoken foreign language in Turkey, we initially consider the economic value of different foreign languages among the employed males aged 25 to 65. We find positive and significant returns to proficiency in English and Russian, which increase with the level of competence. Knowledge of French and German also appears to be positively rewarded in the Turkish labor market, although their economic value seems mostly linked to an increased likelihood to hold specific occupations rather than increased earnings within occupations. Focusing on English, we also explore the heterogeneity in returns to different levels of proficiency by frequency of English use at work, birth-cohort, education, occupation and rural/urban location. The results are also robust to the endogenous specification of English language skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Di Paolo & Aysit Tansel, 2013. "Returns to Foreign Language Skills in a Developing Country: The Case of Turkey," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1322, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
  • Handle: RePEc:koc:wpaper:1322
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    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Zhiling & de Graaff, Thomas & Nijkamp, Peter, 2017. "Look Who’s Talking: On the Heterogeneous Returns to Foreign Language Use at Work among Natives and Migrants in Europe," GLO Discussion Paper Series 104, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    2. Aysit Tansel, 2013. "Supplementary Education in Turkey: Recent Developments and Future Prospectss," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1319, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    3. Catalina Bolancé & Zuhair Bahraoui & Ramon Alemany, 2015. "Estimating extreme value cumulative distribution functions using bias-corrected kernel approaches," Working Papers XREAP2015-01, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Jan 2015.
    4. Anna Castañer & Mª Mercè Claramunt, 2014. "Optimal stop-loss reinsurance: a dependence analysis," Working Papers XREAP2014-04, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Apr 2014.
    5. Donado, Alejandro, 2014. "Foreign Languages and their Impact on Income and Unemployment," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100288, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Wang, Haining & Smyth, Russell & Cheng, Zhiming, 2017. "The economic returns to proficiency in English in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 91-104.
    7. Mercedes Ayuso & Montserrat Guillén & Jens Perch Nielsen, 2016. "Improving automobile insurance ratemaking using telematics: incorporating mileage and driver behaviour data," Working Papers XREAP2016-08, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Dec 2016.
    8. Astghik Mavisakalyan & Clas Weber, 2016. "Linguistic relativity and economics," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1605, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    9. Anna Castañer & Mª Mercè Claramunt & Alba Tadeo & Javier Varea, 2016. "Modelización de la dependencia del número de siniestros. Aplicación a Solvencia II," Working Papers XREAP2016-01, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Sep 2016.
    10. Wang, Haining & Cheng, Zhiming & Smyth, Russell, 2016. "Language and consumption," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 135-151.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Foreign Languages; Returns to Skills; Heterogeneity; Turkey.;

    JEL classification:

    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • 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
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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