The Wage Penalty of Regional Accents

38 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2020

See all articles by Jeffrey Grogger

Jeffrey Grogger

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andreas Steinmayr

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics

Joachim Winter

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

Previous work has documented that speaking one’s native language with an accent distinct from the mainstream is associated with lower wages. In this study, we seek to estimate the causal effect of speaking with a distinctive regional accent, disentangling the effect of the accent from that of omitted variables. We collected data on workers’ speech in Germany, a country with wide variation in regional dialects. We use a variety of strategies in estimation, including an instrumental variables strategy in which the instruments are based on research findings from the linguistics of accent acquisition. All of our estimators show that speaking with a distinctive regional accent reduces wages by an amount that is comparable to the gender wage gap. We also find that workers with distinctive regional accents tend to sort away from occupations that demand high levels of face-to-face contact, consistent with various occupational sorting models.

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Suggested Citation

Grogger, Jeffrey T. and Steinmayr, Andreas and Winter, Joachim, The Wage Penalty of Regional Accents (January 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26719. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3530690

Jeffrey T. Grogger (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andreas Steinmayr

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Ludwigstrasse 28
Munich, D-80539
Germany

Joachim Winter

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

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