Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the U.S. Labor Market

32 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2007

See all articles by Barry R. Chiswick

Barry R. Chiswick

University of Illinois at Chicago; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Paul W. Miller

Curtin University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Curtin University - Centre for Research in Applied Economics

Date Written: March 2007

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the English language requirements (both level and importance) of occupations in the United States, as measured by the O*NET database. These scores are linked to microdata on employed adult (aged 25 to 64) males, both native born and foreign born, as reported in the 2000 Census, one percent sample. Working in an occupation that requires greater English language skills, whether measured by the level of these skills or the importance of English for performing the job, has a large effect on earnings among the native born, and an even larger effect among the foreign born. This effect is reduced by 50 percent, but is still large, when worker characteristics, including their own English language skills, are held constant. Earnings increase with the respondent's own proficiency in English, with the English proficiency required for the occupation, and when those with high levels of proficiency work in jobs requiring English language skills (interaction effect). There is, therefore, a strong economic incentive for the matching of worker's English skills and the occupation's requirements, and this matching does tend to occur in the labor market.

Keywords: English language, earnings, occupation, immigrants, schooling

JEL Classification: J24, J31, J62, F22

Suggested Citation

Chiswick, Barry R. and Miller, Paul W., Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the U.S. Labor Market (March 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2664. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=977510

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

Paul W. Miller

Curtin University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box U1987
Perth WA 6845
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Curtin University - Centre for Research in Applied Economics ( email )

GPO Box U1987
Perth, Western Australia 6845
Australia

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