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Heterogeneity in the Importance of English-Speaking Ability in Determination of Employment Status by Demographic Subgroups in the United States

Afful, Efua Amoonua (2013): Heterogeneity in the Importance of English-Speaking Ability in Determination of Employment Status by Demographic Subgroups in the United States.

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Abstract

Previous literature indicates that language skills are an important determinant of success in the labor market. Using data from the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS) 1-year sample with individual weights in logit estimation, this paper shows that there is heterogeneity in the importance of English-speaking ability by gender, race and education. First, improvement in speaking proficiency in English increases the odds of employment to a point, beyond which there are no additional benefits. Second, females obtain higher benefits than males from enhancing proficiency partly due to the industry distribution of employment by gender. Finally, for proficiency in speaking English to yield substantial employment benefits, one must attain moderate to high educational qualifications. Language remains important as a determinant of success in the labor market.

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