Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Are there rewards for language skills? Evidence from the earnings of registered nurses

Coombs, Christopher and Cebula, Richard (2009): Are there rewards for language skills? Evidence from the earnings of registered nurses. Published in: The Social Science Journal , Vol. 47, No. 3 (28 September 2010): pp. 659-677.

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The existing empirical evidence on whether U.S. labor markets reward workers for second-language skills is meager and conflicting. Employing data from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses in 2000 and 2004, this study reexamines the positive bilingual-earnings relationship found in the most current research on this topic. We test the relationship using alternative models that explain the wages earned by nurses. The advantage of this approach is that it permits an assessment of how sensitive the results are to changes in the variables used in the model. We find the evidence of a positive bilingual effect on earnings to be mixed. The relationship is sufficiently frail that statistically significant results eventually dissolve as more precise occupational characteristics are included in the wage equation. Moreover, using more current data, we find no evidence of a wage premium paid to nurses for second-language skills. We offer possible explanations for this lack of evidence within this specific occupation.

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