Is Spanish-Only Schooling Responsible for the Puerto Rican Language Gap?

41 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2006 Last revised: 29 Jun 2009

See all articles by Joshua D. Angrist

Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Aimee Chin

University of Houston - Department of Economics

Ricardo Godoy

Brandeis University

Date Written: February 2006

Abstract

Between 1898 and 1948, English was the language of instruction for most post-primary grades in Puerto Rican public schools. Since 1949, the language of instruction in all grades has been Spanish. We use this policy change to estimate the effect of English-intensive instruction on the English-language skills of Puerto Ricans. Although naive estimates suggest that English instruction increased English-speaking ability among Puerto Rican natives, estimates that allow for education-specific cohort trends show no effect. This result is surprising in light of the strong presumption by American policymakers at the time that instruction in English was the best way to raise English proficiency. This has implications for medium of instruction policy in former colonies as well as U.S. education policy toward immigrant children.

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Joshua and Chin, Aimee Y. and Godoy, Ricardo, Is Spanish-Only Schooling Responsible for the Puerto Rican Language Gap? (February 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=881239

Joshua Angrist (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Aimee Y. Chin

University of Houston - Department of Economics ( email )

Houston, TX 77204-5882
United States

Ricardo Godoy

Brandeis University ( email )

Waltham, MA 02454
United States

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