The Economic Returns to a Second Official Language: English in Quebec and French in the Rest-of-Canada

34 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2008

See all articles by Louis N. Christofides

Louis N. Christofides

University of Cyprus - Department of Economics; University of Guelph; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Robert Swidinsky

University of Guelph - Department of Economics

Abstract

Canada is a country with two official languages, French and English. The need for both languages in Quebec and the Rest-of-Canada (ROC) generates a demand for bilingualism and investment in the acquisition of a second official language. Knowledge of an additional language may be associated with enhanced earnings because it may reflect what might generically be called 'ability' bias or because it may actually be useful at the workplace. Until now, available data did not indicate whether bilingualism was actually being used at work. However, the 2001 Census reports, for the first time, whether an individual is bilingual and the extent to which this skill is actually used at work. Conditioning on both knowledge and use allows us to measure the additional earnings which accrue to the use of a second language more cleanly. We find very substantial, statistically significant, rewards to second official language use in Quebec and much smaller, not statistically significant, effects in the ROC.

Keywords: wages, language knowledge, language use

JEL Classification: J01, J24, J31

Suggested Citation

Christofides, Louis N. and Swidinsky, Robert, The Economic Returns to a Second Official Language: English in Quebec and French in the Rest-of-Canada. , Vol. , pp. -, . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1150720 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Louis N. Christofides (Contact Author)

University of Cyprus - Department of Economics ( email )

75 Kallipoleos Street
P.O. Box 20537
1678 Nicosia
Cyprus
357 22 892448 (Phone)
357 22 892432 (Fax)

University of Guelph ( email )

Guelph, Ontario
Canada
001-519-763-8497 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Robert Swidinsky

University of Guelph - Department of Economics ( email )

Guelph, Ontario
Canada

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