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