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Robert M. La Follette
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Returns to language skills to be discussed

The positive effect of language skills on wages will be discussed at a La Follette School seminar at noon on Tuesday, December 11, in the school conference room.

Research by the speaker, Mathias Sinning, at senior lecturer at Australian National University's College of Business and Economics, also demonstrates that education is an important channel through which language skills affect wages of child migrants, while the returns to language skills of adult migrants do not depend on education. Despite this difference, the returns to language skills of child and adult migrants are about the same. Sinning's findings also indicate that the critical period hypothesis, which postulates that language acquisition up to native ability is almost certain for young children, is irrelevant for the identification of the causal effect of language skills on wages.

Sinning's talk is titled "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market." He uses data from the 2010 American Community Survey to study the returns to language skills of child and adult migrants in the US labor market. He employs an instrumental variable strategy to address issues related to endogeneity and measurement error.

— posted December 6, 2012