Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants*

University of Houston
Review of Economics and Statistics (Impact Factor: 2.66). 02/2004; 86(2):481-496. DOI: 10.1162/003465304323031067
Source: RePEc


Research on the effect of language skills on earnings is complicated by the endogeneity of language skills. This study exploits the phenomenon that younger children learn languages more easily than older children to construct an instrumental variable for language proficiency. We find a significant positive effect of English proficiency on wages among adults who immigrated to the United States as children. Much of this effect appears to be mediated through education. Differences between non-English-speaking origin countries and English-speaking ones that might make immigrants from the latter a poor control group for nonlanguage age-at-arrival effects do not appear to drive these findings. Copyright (c) 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Full-text preview

Available from:
  • Source
    • "S . labor market for English deficiencies and increase the likelihood of engaging in low - wage employment ( Bleakley and Chin 2004 ; Grenier 1984 ; McManus , Gould , and Welch 1983 ; Mora and Dávila 1998 ) . Figures 5 and 6 graph the predicted probabilities for all male and female workers aged 25 – 65 . "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper examines the factors that influence the likelihood of engaging in low‐wage work during the recessionary and post‐recessionary era. Using micro data from the 5‐year 2008–2012 American Community Survey Estimates, we examine human capital, structural, and labor market characteristics that induce workers' participation into low‐wage jobs and labor markets, as well as how these vary between and within various ethnic/racial, age, and gender groups, including Hispanic/Latino ethnic groups. We find that the factors influencing engagement in low‐wage employment largely mirror those identified in pre‐recessionary studies and analyses but that there is a differential effect across ethnicity, race, gender, and age that may lead to and lock specific groups of workers into low‐wage employment. Using a post‐estimation technique to generate predicted probabilities, we discuss how these factors influence a worker's likelihood to engage in low‐wage employment across and within ethnic and racial populations, and the implications these present for contemporary scholarship, policy, and praxis.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · WorkingUSA
  • Source
    • "fluency with most individuals who migrate before age 9 being fluent in English (Bleakley and Chin, 2004, 2010), so we use this as our starting point for a cutoff. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This paper studies the formation and persistence of gender identity in a sample of U.S. immigrants. We show that gender roles are acquired early in life, and once established, persist regardless of how long an individual has lived in the U.S. We use a novel approach relying on linguistic variation and document that households with individuals whose native language emphasizes gender in its grammatical structure are significantly more likely to allocate household tasks on the basis of sex and to do so more intensively. We present evidence of two mechanisms for our observed associations – that languages serve as cultural markers for origin country norms or that features of language directly influence cognition and behavior. Our findings do not appear to be driven by plausible alternatives such as selection in migration and marriage markets, as gender norms of behavior are evident even in the behavior of single person households.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
  • Source
    • "We address the 'aggregate' endogeneity problem using an IV strategy, without making an attempt to disentangle the contribution of the two sources of bias. Following Bleakley and Chin (2004, 2010) and van Ours and Veenman (2006), we use language of the origin country as well as its interaction with age-at-arrival as instrumental variables for the subpopulation of immigrants. Our identification strategy effectively compares older and younger arrivers from non-English-speaking countries, after controlling for an age-at-arrival effect which is common for all immigrants regardless of their native language. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We focus on the effect of English deficiency on the native-immigrant wage gap for male employees in the UK using the first wave of the UK Household Longitudinal Survey. We show that the wage gap is robust to controls for age, region of residence, educational attainment and ethnicity. However, English as Additional Language (EAL) is capable of explaining virtually all the remaining wage gap between natives and immigrants. Using the interaction of language of country of birth and age-at-arrival as instrument, we find strong evidence of a causal effect of EAL on the native-immigrant wage gap.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Economics Letters
Show more