We estimate the wage effects of bilingual education for the first time using a reform that introduced bilingualism in Catalan schools. Variation across years of schooling and birth cohorts provides identification. We find substantial effects of bilingual education, which increases baseline returns to education by about 20%. Robustness checks show that effects stem from exposure to the language-in-education reform and are neither a consequence of unobservable determinants of educational attainment nor an artifact of education-cohort specific trends in wages. The reform was mostly beneficial for individuals of non-Catalan background from low parental background, thus achieving its goal of leveling the playing field in a bilingual society.
Economics of Education Review