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Language and Labour in South Africa: A new approach for a new South Africa

  • Katy Cornwell

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    This paper considers the role of language in labour earnings in South Africa over the period 1996 to 1998. Our pooled cross-section comprises of over 160,000 working age adults, and the analysis considers the decision to participate in the labour force, employment prospects and labour earnings. Models include variables for individual mother tongue in addition to population group. After conditioning on a number of socio-economic and demographic factors, we find that having English as one's mother tongue is one of the pivotal determinants of labour earnings. These results are robust across two models of sample selection. Such findings shed light on the economic consequences of South Africa's national policy of linguistic heterogeneity.

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    File URL: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/ebs/pubs/wpapers/2006/wp5-06.pdf
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    Paper provided by Monash University, Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics in its series Monash Econometrics and Business Statistics Working Papers with number 5/06.

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    Length: 29 pages
    Date of creation: Feb 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:msh:ebswps:2006-5
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    Web page: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/depts/ebs/
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    1. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2004. "Unemployment in South Africa: The Nature of the Beast," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 391-408, March.
    2. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 205-28, April.
    5. Gilles Grenier, 1984. "The Effects of Language Characteristics on the Wages of Hispanic-American Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(1), pages 35-52.
    6. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 1999. "Unemployment and wages in South Africa: a spatial approach," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/1999-12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Rivera-Batiz, Francisco L., 1990. "English language proficiency and the economic progress of immigrants," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 295-300, November.
    8. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
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