This article estimates the impact of language barriers on school achievement and the potential ameliorating role of bilingual education. Using large household data sets from poor rural communities in Mexico, we find that parental language (failure to speak Spanish) represents an important barrier to the schooling of indigenous children. We provide an empirical test suggesting that this largely reflects parental human capital related to culture/language, rather than unobserved wealth effects. Using double difference estimators with community fixed effects to address endogenous program placement, we demonstrate that schools with bilingual education narrow the gap in the educational performance of children with monolingual mothers versus bilingual and nonindigenous mothers.
Americas and the Caribbean
Studies of achievement