How large are the economic returns to English-French bilingualism in New Brunswick?Export this event to calendar

Friday, November 3, 2017 — 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM EDT

The SouthWestern Ontario Research Data Centre welcomes Dr. Herb Emery, the Vaughan Chair, University of New Brunswick, for a talk on the economic returns to English-French bilingualism in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick is Canada’s only officially bilingual province. From around 20 percent of the population with knowledge of French and English in the 1950s and 1960s, in 2011 around one-third of New Brunswickers are bilingual. The size of the contribution of bilingualism to higher wages and higher Gross Domestic Product in New Brunswick is the subject of debate. We estimate the impact of bilingualism on earnings for New Brunswick using 2001 and 2006 Census data and the 2011 National Household Survey. We follow Christofides and Swidinsky (2010) and distinguish between the impacts of language knowledge and language use in the workplace. We also follow Nadeau (2010) and decompose the impact of bilingualism into the returns to the mother tongue of the worker and the incremental returns to second language ability. We find that for New Brunswickers with French as their mother tongue, there are higher returns to second language use than for second language knowledge. For English mother tongue New Brunswickers there are low returns associated with French language knowledge but not to French language use in the workplace, and by 2011, there are no earnings advantages of bilingual workers over unilingual counterparts outside of the public sector. Following Nadeau, we find that demand for French language in the labour market is lower than the demand for English and bilingualism closes the linguistic income gap by providing French speaking workers with access to the greater opportunities and income of the larger labour market demanding English language capabilities. Our estimates are consistent with the Church and King (1993) view that majority languages benefit from larger network externalities which creates the economic returns to learning the majority language but not the minority language. Official bilingualism for New Brunswick has been successful at raising the productivity and pay of the French speaking minority, improving economic equality between linguistic groups and raising provincial GDP. The trade-off has been that the economic benefits have come with reduced “vitality” of French language in the province. Information will be available on data access at SWORDC. 

Cost 
Free
Location 
EV3 - Environment 3
3214

,
Canada
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