Registered Nurses and the Value of Bilingualism
Recent research indicates that markets do not value bilingual skills. These results, however, are not robust across all labor markets, and one notable counter-instance is the market for registered nurses. As the Hispanic population grows in the United States, health care providers will encounter increasing numbers of patients who are not fluent in English. To better serve their patients, meet government requirements, and limit legal liability, employers may offer wage premiums to attract bilingual (Spanish/English) registered nurses. Support for this hypothesis comes from wage regressions on data for the year 2000 from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses. The estimates indicate that bilingual registered nurses received wage premiums of up to 7%, depending on the fraction of the population that spoke Spanish in the RN’s county of employment.