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The economics of language : the roles of education and labor market outcomes (English)

Relatively little is known about the determinants and consequences of dominant language fluency among linguistic minorities. This paper presents the development of a model of the determinants of dominant language proficiency. The model is based on three primary factors: exposure to the dominant language, efficiency in acquiring the dominant language skills, and economic incentives for acquiring dominant language proficiency. Tests of the model are summarized for immigrants in six countries. Preliminary studies suggest that there can be substantial economic benefits for the individual and the society when linguistic minorities acquire dominant language proficiency. The benefits to the individual may come in the form of being more successful in consumption activities. Several studies have shown benefits in the form of higher earning and greater employment. For the economy as a whole, increased economic growth and reductions in poverty and inequality may be important benefits. The broadening of opportunities in consumption, educational, and labor market activities due to enhanced proficiency in the language need not come at the expense of a diminution of proficiency in the mother tongue. The issue is not choosing one language or another, but the costs of and benefits from proficiency in the dominant language of a country.


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    Chiswick, Barry R.

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    Human Capital Working Paper

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    The economics of language : the roles of education and labor market outcomes

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Chiswick, Barry R.

The economics of language : the roles of education and labor market outcomes (English). Human capital development and operations policy working papers ; no. HCD 70 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.