The economic returns to proficiency in English in China

Haining Wang, Russell Leigh Smyth, Zhiming Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examine economic returns to proficiency in English in China using two waves of the China Labor-Force Dynamics Survey (CLDS). We find positive earnings returns to proficiency in English. We find considerable heterogeneity in the economic returns to proficiency in English across age groups, coastal and inland provinces, levels of education and occupation. We find that the returns to proficiency in English are higher in the coastal region, higher for women and evidence of education-language and skill-language complementarity. We also see differences in the economic returns to English between urban and rural residents and between rural-urban migrants and urban locals. Our findings help to explain why the demand for learning English is so high in China, as well as having implications for the Chinese government at a time when it is re-evaluating the importance attached to learning English in the curriculum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91–104
Number of pages14
JournalChina Economic Review
Volume43
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • China
  • Education
  • English proficiency
  • Human capital
  • Wage

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