Foreign Language Knowledge: A Resource or a Barrier for Economic Integration?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Josep UBALDE BUENAFUENTE, URV-Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
Amado ALARCON ALARCON, University Rovira i Virgili, Spain
The economics of language has stressed that foreign language competences are a form of human capital that promotes wage benefits among immigrants. In the same way, sociology has emphasized their potential as a cultural asset that enables economic integration in host societies. However, foreign language skills are not always rewarded in the labor market. The academic literature has shown different outcomes depending on several conditions, being occupational and contextual level variables among the most important ones. Thus, demand and supply aspects, country-specific policies and social context (e.g. anti-immigrant attitudes), are relevant moderators of the language-earnings relationship. However, the effects of these variables have not systematically evaluated and the conditions by which languages are recognized by labor markets are not clear. In this presentation we take into consideration the effects of these variables to explain the language-earnings relationship. We base our work on a combination of three European databases (AES, PIAAC and SES) that enables a comprehensive and cross-national exploration of the mentioned effects. This research can enhance sociological knowledge regarding economic integration of immigrants through language.