Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Ron Cheung

Committee Member(s)

Barbara Craig, Co-Chair
Tobias Pfutze, Co-Chair


Language difficulty, Foreign language, Foreign language acquisition, Language acquisition and wages


This paper seeks to determine whether fluency in a foreign language has a significant impact on future earnings. The sample in question is made up of US college graduates who attained their bachelor’s degrees during the 2007-2008 school year. While previous literature suggests that there is a positive impact of 2-3% higher wages on top of a bachelor’s degree for those who are fluent in a foreign language, I am unable to find this general premium for fluency in a foreign language. I look at interactions of foreign language and their relative difficulty and, once again, do not find a significant relationship between the difficulty of a language and wages. However, I find that foreign language fluency provides a significant impact on wages only in certain sectors. Specifically, a positive increase in hourly wage is found in personal service and sales occupations. A negative relationship with hourly wage is found in science and technology related as well as “other” (which includes agricultural) fields.

Included in

Economics Commons