Bachelor of Arts
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.
Nguyen, Christopher, "The Effects of Foreign Language Acquisition on Wages for US College Graduates" (2015). Honors Papers. 266.