Indigenous Language Skills and the Labor Market in a Developing Economy: Bolivia

Posted: 10 Feb 2000

See all articles by Barry R. Chiswick

Barry R. Chiswick

University of Illinois at Chicago; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Harry A. Patrinos

World Bank

Michael E. Hurst

University of Illinois at Chicago

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between language use and labor market activities (participation and earnings) in a developing economy where many speak an indigenous language. The application is to men and women age 15 and over in Bolivia?s department capital cities, using the 1993 Encusesta Integrade de Hogares (Integrated Household Survey). The use of Spanish is found to be more prevalent among those more active in the labor market, among those who have had more exposure to Spanish, and among those who are more efficient in acquiring language skills. The effects of Spanish and indigenous language usage on labor force participation and on earnings are analyzed. When other variables are held constant, including level of schooling, among both men and women monolingual Spanish speakers earn about 25 percent more than bilingual Spanish-indigenous language speakers. Among women, those who speak only an indigenous language earn about 25 percent less than those who are bilingual. The lower earnings of the bilingual speakers may be due to their poorer proficiency in Spanish.

JEL Classification: J61

Suggested Citation

Chiswick, Barry R. and Patrinos, Harry Anthony and Hurst, Michael E., Indigenous Language Skills and the Labor Market in a Developing Economy: Bolivia. Economic Development and Cultural Change, January 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=206031

Barry R. Chiswick (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

601 S. Morgan Street, Room 2103UH
Chicago, IL 60607-7121
United States
312-996-2683 (Phone)
312-996-3344 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Harry Anthony Patrinos

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Michael E. Hurst

University of Illinois at Chicago

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

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