Abstract

Is there a shortage of critical foreign language skills in the United States? Recent concerns about national security and economic globalization suggest increased demand and wage premia for foreign language speakers. The use of English as the international language, however, suggests a decrease in demand for foreign language skills in the United States. To address this question, we study a representative sample of U.S. college graduates. Ordinary least squares regressions with controls for cognitive ability, nonparametric methods based on the propensity score, and panel data methods suggest a 2%–3% wage premium for college graduates who can speak a second language.

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