Title

Can minority language proficiency pay: a study on the return on English-Spanish fluent bilingualism in South Florida

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Walter Gillis Peacock

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Chris Girard

Third Advisor's Name

Alex Stepick

Date of Defense

6-16-1999

Abstract

This thesis studies the economic return for fluent-bilingualism in South Florida among native-born whites using IPUMS (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series) data for Miami-Dade County (1990). Previous mainstream-oriented theories focus on the benefit in English acquisition for immigrants and their descendants, either denying or ignoring the possible benefit of minority language retention in addition to English acquisition. An alternative literature, on the other hand, suggests that minority language retention can be beneficial in at least three areas: 1) enhancing cognitive ability; 2) accessing community-level social capital; and 3) serving as human capital. This study assesses economic returns in employment and earnings, using logistic and OLS (Ordinary Least Square) regression respectively. The results, countering the mainstream-oriented theories, suggest that fluent bilingualism does have economic consequences. Rather than fully supporting the positive effects thesis, the patterns shown are much more complicated, contingent on an individual's ethnic membership and educational level. Theoretical and substantive implications are discussed and suggestions for future research are made.

Identifier

FI13101549

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