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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

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The Return to English in a Non-English Speaking Country: Russian Immigrants and Native Israelis in Israel

Kevin Lang
  • 1Boston University, NBER and IZA,
/ Erez Siniver
  • 2College of Management - Academic Studies,
Published Online: 2009-11-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2274


Using a unique sample of Russian immigrants and native Israelis, we examine the return to English knowledge. Panel and cross-section estimates of the return to English are substantial for highly educated immigrants and natives. Hebrew and English language acquisition contribute to immigrant/native earnings convergence, but most convergence is explained by other factors. While immigrants with low levels of education do not benefit from knowing English, native Israelis may. Conditional on occupation, English and Hebrew acquisition are largely orthogonal. Therefore earlier work on the importance of knowledge of the host-country language (Hebrew) is not significantly biased by unmeasured English knowledge.

This article offers supplementary material which is provided at the end of the article.

Keywords: language; human capital; language/skill complementarity

Published Online: 2009-11-17

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 9, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2274, November 2009

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