Bilingualism in the labour market

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Previous research has found that among the native-born population, bilingual people earn less in the U.S. labour market. We examine whether a similar pattern exists in the U.K. and attempt to provide an explanation. We find that bilingual men do no worse than monolingual men, but that bilingual women earn significantly less than monolingual women. This is not explained by differences in cultural background, parental education or other family background variables. The result also holds when we control for various degrees of bias in unobserved characteristics. Instead, the result appears to be driven by differences across areas in the prevalence of bilingualism, with the negative earnings effects restricted to bilingual women living in areas with relatively low proportions of English speakers. The negative effects of bilingualism on women are also concentrated among speakers of South Asian languages and relatively uncommon languages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLabor Markets, Migration, and Mobility – Essays in Honor of Jacques Poot
EditorsWilliam Cochrane, Michael P. Cameron, Omoniyi Alimi
PublisherSpringer, Singapore
Publication statusAcceptance date - 9 Jun 2020

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