I'm very much interested in the difference between anglophonic and non-anglophonic countries stemming just from the language skills. I'll be grateful for any references regarding the topic.

What is the approximate annual economical gain of a country stemming purely from investments in English language classes?

  • $\begingroup$ What exactly are you asking? Speaking English as a second language versus first language? $\endgroup$
    – luchonacho
    Aug 25, 2017 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @luchonacho Speaking English as a native language versus not speaking it as a native language (Those terms are confusing since often you hear people talking about bilinguals as speaking a language as L2) $\endgroup$
    – Probably
    Aug 25, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you focusing on any specific geography? I believe the result could potentially be very different depending on the country. Certain industries might also have a higher benefit than others in speaking English (e.g. coding) $\endgroup$ Aug 26, 2017 at 9:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JoaoBotelho Yes, I'm extremely interested in the advantage of a country with more native (or pseudonative) English speakers. But my question aims at the differences amongst countries rather than individuals. $\endgroup$
    – Probably
    Aug 26, 2017 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ maybe these two links can give you some different insights : news.uchicago.edu/article/2012/04/25/… independent.co.uk/news/science/… $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2017 at 12:54

2 Answers 2


I think this new paper might be of interest to you.

The authors estimate the earnings advantage of workers that speak a second language, differentiating between native-born and foreign-born speakers. They evaluate this for 15 European countries, between 1994 and 2001. Their results are:

First, for native-born workers with a tertiary diploma, using a foreign language at work is found to have an unambiguously positive impact on their earnings (2% on average). Second, for foreign- born workers, however, returns to foreign language use at work is highly complementary to education. Foreign language users below the upper secondary educational level earned significantly less ( − 8%) than those who use the local language at work. Third, with regard to language types, a linguistically distant foreign language gives native-born workers the highest wage premium, and EU official languages pays off the most for foreign-born workers. Fourth, our results do not show that lack of local language knowledge of low-educated migrants causes these results, as immigrants for whom the mother tongue is similar to the local language show a similar pattern.

The authors also perform a calculation of the annual wage loss from low skill foreign-workers not speaking the local language (as wages belong to GDP, this could partly be seen as a GDP loss, but it's not a very decent general equilibrium exercise in my opinion). The results below:

enter image description here

Not only the article itself but the references of the article might be of interest to you. For example:

"Ginsburgh and Prieto-Rodriguez (2011) found that for native workers, English skills are well rewarded in Northern Europe, but much less rewarded in Southern Europe (for example, less than French and German in Italy, etc.)


One of the best ways to study the benefit of speaking English, at least within an English speaking country, is by looking at the wage discrimination literature. Some, but not all, of wage discrimination turns out can be explained away by the ability to speak English. These studies are good to look at because of the controls for other factors. For example, it looks like the ability to speak English was a factor in this study, looking at before and after the impact of the IRCA in the US. The references I give of course are not generalizable to the whole world, because of their focus on the US. So I suggest looking more into the wage literature yourself.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.