The Effects of Language on Salary: South Africa

Faculty Sponsor

Sara Gundersen


Arts and Sciences


Economics/ Political Science and International Relations

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2019


In this paper, I explore the relationship between the language spoken outside of the household with monthly salary in South Africa, using data from the University of Cape Town’s 2016 general household survey. Most of the literature on language economics focuses around immigration and language. Previous literature on English language proficiency and earnings in South Africa has provided a foundation for my study, though I took it a step farther to test the expected monthly salary of each indigenous language, compared to English. The study is rooted in the fact that language is capital. My study finds that if you speak any indigenous language outside of the household, your expected monthly salary is significantly less than if you speak English.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

My name is Caroline Pratt, and I am currently a senior International Relations and Economics double major with a minor in Communication at Valparaiso University. Through working at several international NGOs and studying abroad in Southern Africa, I developed an interested in international education. Through my experience abroad and coursework in TESOL and sociolinguistics, I questioned what the effects of teaching English abroad had on indigenous populations. Following graduation, I will be teaching English in South East Asia.

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