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The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market

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  • Isphording, Ingo
  • Sinning, Mathias

Abstract

This paper uses data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) to study the returns to language skills of child and adult migrants in the US labor market. We employ an instrumental variable strategy, which exploits differences in language acquisition profiles between immigrants from English- and non-English-speaking countries of origin, to address problems related to endogeneity and measurement error. We find significantly positive returns to language skills and demonstrate that education is an important channel through which language skills affect wages of child migrants. Although the returns of adult migrants do not depend on education, we find that child and adult migrants exhibit similar returns to language skills.

Suggested Citation

  • Isphording, Ingo & Sinning, Mathias, 2012. "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market," Ruhr Economic Papers 391, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:rwirep:391
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    Cited by:

    1. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Disadvantages of linguistic origin—Evidence from immigrant literacy scores," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 236-239.
    2. repec:zbw:rwirep:0397 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Language and Labor Market Success," IZA Discussion Papers 8572, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Ramon Caminal & Antonio Di Paolo, 2015. "Your language or mine?," Working Papers XREAP2015-05, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Nov 2015.
    5. Ingo Isphording, 2013. "Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin – Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores," Ruhr Economic Papers 0397, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international migration; language skills; labor productivity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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

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