Earnings and linguistic proficiency in a bilingual economy
Bilingualism is a widespread phenomenon, yet its economic effects are under researched. Typically studies find that bilingual workers are disadvantaged. Governments often protect minority languages through official promotion of bilingualism, with potential economic consequences. This paper addresses the impact of bilingualism on earnings, using the example of Wales. Results show a positive raw differential of 8 to 10 per cent depending on definition of linguistic proficiency. This differential persists in earnings function estimates, which control for human capital and demographic characteristics as well as local area effects. The potential endogeneity of language choice and earnings is addressed through the use of appropriate instrumental variables. Results suggest that bilingualism may be exogenous to the determination of earnings.
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