Is learning a foreign language really worth it? Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt tackled this question on their Freakonomics podcast and reached a sobering conclusion: the earnings bonus for an American who learns a foreign language a paltry 2% — or $600 for someone making $30,000 per year.
Not so fast, says Johnson at the Economist. Over a lifetime and considering compound interest, the accumulated bonus for learning a language is much higher — close to $75,000 on average.
Most interesting to us is the graph that shows the respective forecast bonuses for different languages — apparently, learning German yields upwards of $125,000, whereas Spanish is only “worth” $50,000. The difference in the premiums, of course, lies in the supply and demand, as well as the economic performance of nations speaking the language.
Do you feel that learning additional languages has given you an economic edge? And: are there perhaps other, more rewarding reasons to learn a language than the purely economic angle? We’d love to hear your point of view in the comments.