THE EFFECTS OF SPANISH-LANGUAGE BACKGROUND ON COMPLETED SCHOOLING AND APTITUDE TEST SCORES

Authors

  • LUIS LOCAY,

    1. Locay: Department of Economics, University of Miami, P.O. Box 248126, Coral Gables, FL 33124-6550. Phone (305) 284-1502, Fax (305) 284-2985, E-mail l.locay@miami.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
  • TRACY L. REGAN,

    1. Regan: Department of Economics, Eller College of Management, McClelland Hall 401, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210108, Tucson, AZ 85721-0108. Phone (520) 621-6224, Fax (520) 621-8450, E-mail tregan@email.arizona.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
  • ARTHUR M. DIAMOND Jr

    1. Diamond: Department of Economics, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge St., Omaha, NE 68182-0048. Phone (402) 554-3647, Fax (402) 554-2853, E-mail adiamond@mail.unomaha.edu
    Search for more papers by this author
    • The authors are grateful for comments received at the 2007 American Economic Association Meetings, with special thanks to Aimee Chin, the 2006 Southern Economic Association 79th Annual Conference, the 2006 LACEA-LAMES Conference, the 2006 Guanajuato Workshop for Young Economists, the 2006 Annual Congress of the European Society for Population Economics, the 2006 Western Economic Association International 81st Annual Conference, and from participants in the applied microeconomics/labor workshop at the University of Miami. We thank Sara Michalski, Isaac Petit-Frere, and Debanjali Roy for research assistance. We are also grateful for the comments from two anonymous referees.


Abstract

We investigate the effect of speaking Spanish at home as a child on completed schooling and aptitude test scores using data from the NLSY79 on Hispanics who grew up in the United States. We model the accumulation of traditional human capital and English fluency, leading to the joint determination of schooling and test scores. We find that speaking Spanish at home reduces test scores, but has no significant effect on completed schooling. The reduction in test scores (1) increases in magnitude in three of the tests when the parents are more educated; (2) is much more dramatic when the choice of home language is made endogenous; and (3) is not systematically greater for the verbal than for the math tests. (JEL I20, J15)

Ancillary