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Returns to Local and Foreign Language Skills – Causal Evidence from Spain

  • Ingo Isphording

    ()

This study examines the returns to foreign and local language skills of immigrants in the Spanish labor market. Different sources of endogeneity are addressed by deriving a set of novel instruments for language proficiency through a measure of linguistic dissimilarity. Using cross-sectional data from the 2007 National Immigrant Survey of Spain (NISS), returns to language skills are estimated separately for Spanish, English, German and French proficiency. Foreign language proficiency produces high returns, which appear to be mediated through the channel of occupational choice. The results are discussed against the background of a severe foreign language skills shortage in the Spanish economy. Immigrants may deal as a supplier of foreign language proficiency in the short run. In contrast to most studies, I find no compelling evidence of a wage premium for local language profiiency.

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Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0398.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0398
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  1. Ingo E. Isphording & Sebastian Otten, 2012. "The Costs of Babylon – Linguistic Distance in Applied Economics," Ruhr Economic Papers 0337, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  2. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the earnings of immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
  3. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2011. "Negative and Positive Assimilation, Skill Transferability, and Linguistic Distance," IZA Discussion Papers 5420, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Jan Fidrmuc & Jarko Fidrmuc, 2014. "Foreign Languages and Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 4670, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Juan Canal-Domínguez & César Rodríguez-Gutiérrez, 2008. "Analysis of wage differences between native and immigrant workers in Spain," Spanish Economic Review, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 109-134, June.
  6. Garrouste, Christelle, 2008. "Language Skills and Economic Returns," MPRA Paper 25069, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-53, September.
  8. Williams, Donald R., 2006. "The Economic Returns to Multiple Language Usage in Western Europe," IRISS Working Paper Series 2006-07, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  9. Victor Ginsburgh, 2005. "Languages, genes and cultures," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/1677, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. GINSBURGH, Victor & PRIETO-RODRIGUEZ, Juan, 2007. "Returns to foreign languages of native workers in the EU," CORE Discussion Papers 2007021, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  11. David S. Reher & Miguel Requena, 2009. "The National Immigrant Survey of Spain. A new data source for migration studies in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 20(12), pages 253-278, March.
  12. Ott Toomet, 2011. "Learn English, Not the Local Language! Ethnic Russians in the Baltic States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 526-31, May.
  13. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2007. "Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the U.S. Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-45, May.
  15. 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.
  16. Geoffrey Carliner, 1981. "Wage Differences by Language Group and the Market for Language Skills in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(3), pages 384-399.
  17. Ku, Hyejin & Zussman, Asaf, 2010. "Lingua franca: The role of English in international trade," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 250-260, August.
  18. 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.
  19. 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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