The Earnings of Linguistic Minorities: French in Canada and Spanish in the United States

David E. Bloom, Gilles Grenier

NBER Working Paper No. 3660
Issued in March 1991
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies Program

This paper measures and compares the relative earnings of French and English speakers in Canada, and of Spanish and English speakers in the U.S., in the 1970s and 1980s. In Canada, the earnings gap between French and English speakers narrowed over time, especially in Quebec. This decline appears to have been caused primarily by a sharp increase in the relative demand for French-speaking workers within Quebec during the 1970s and 1980s. By 1986, nearly all of the remaining earnings gap between French and English speakers in Canada could be accounted for by differences in annual hours worked, marital status, age, education, and region. By contrast, the earnings gap between Spanish and English speakers in the United States remained high during the 1970s and 1980s and is not largely accounted for by differences in a standard set of control variables. If anything, there appears to have been a slight deterioration in the relative earnings of Spanish speakers in the U.S. during the 1970s. The most likely explanation for this change is an increase in the relative supply of Spanish speakers, due mainly to high levels of immigration.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3660

Published: The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 106, No. 2, pp. 557-586, (May 1991).

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