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

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  • Louis N. Christofides
  • Robert Swidinsky

Abstract

In a country with two official languages, such as Canada, the demand for bilingualism may lead individuals born with one mother tongue to acquire the second official language. Knowledge of an additional official language may be associated with enhanced earnings for two reasons; its actual value in the workplace, or its value as a screening mechanism for ability. Previously available data did not indicate whether bilingual language skills were actually being used at work. However, the 2001 Census reports, for the first time, the primary and the secondary languages that an individual uses at work. Conditioning on both language knowledge and language use allow us to estimate the additional earnings that can be attributed to the use of a second official language. We find very substantial, statistically significant, rewards to second official use in Quebec and much smaller, not statistically significant, effects in the Rest-of-Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Louis N. Christofides & Robert Swidinsky, 2010. "The Economic Returns to the Knowledge and Use of a Second Official Language: English in Quebec and French in the Rest-of-Canada," University of Cyprus Working Papers in Economics 04-2010, University of Cyprus Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucy:cypeua:04-2010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Albouy, 2008. "The wage gap between Francophones and Anglophones: a Canadian perspective, 1970-2000," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1211-1238, November.
    2. 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.
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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. Melitz, Jacques, 2012. "A framework for analyzing language and welfare," CEPR Discussion Papers 9091, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Yao, Yuxin & Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan, 2016. "The Education Consequences of Language Proficiency for Young Children," Discussion Paper 2016-009, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Yao, Yuxin & Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C., 2016. "The educational consequences of language proficiency for young children," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 1-15.
    5. Yao, Yuxin, 2017. "Essays on economics of language and family economics," Other publications TiSEM 0093bc8e-e869-4f87-8ff8-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    6. Li, Qiang, 2013. "Language and urban labor market segmentation: Theory and evidence," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 27-46.
    7. Armstrong, Alex, 2015. "Equilibria and efficiency in bilingual labour markets," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 204-220.
    8. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2014. "International Migration and the Economics of Language," IZA Discussion Papers 7880, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Ohinata, Asako & van Ours, Jan C. & Yao, Yuxin, 2016. "The Educational Consequences of Language Proficiency for Young Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 11183, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2016. "Does Bilingualism among the Native Born Pay?," IZA Discussion Papers 9791, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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    Keywords

    Wages; language knowledge; language use;

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