Returns to Foreign Language Skills in a Developing Country: The Case of Turkey

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Di Paolo A., TANSEL A.

JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, vol.51, no.4, pp.407-421, 2015 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 51 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00220388.2015.1019482
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.407-421


This paper analyses the economic value of foreign languages in Turkey using data on some 6000 adult male wage-earners in 2007. We find positive earnings returns to proficiency in English and Russian, which increase with the level of competence. French and German skills are also positively rewarded, although their return seems mostly linked to the likelihood to hold specific occupations. In contrast, knowing Arabic does not generate an earnings premium. Focusing on English, we check for heterogeneous returns along the conditional earnings distribution. The results are qualitatively invariant when we account for misclassification errors in self-reported English skills.