The Wage Penalty of Regional Accents

Professor Joachim Winter (image: Elite Netwerk Bayern)
Professor Joachim Winter (image: Elite Netwerk Bayern)

Institutional Communication Service

7 May 2018

Regional accents and dialects define many populations, like in Europe where they are still very popular and where they are used to defend cultural identities. For long time undermined by national idioms, also for economic reasons related to the shift towards service-based economies, regional dialects are resurfacing in many regions, in the wake of certain social dynamics linked to globalisation. However, in certain areas of economic and demographic research, regional accents can have an impact on wages and the likeliness of working in larger companies. 

The topic of wage penalty related to regional accents will be discussed at a public lecture held by Prof. Joachim Winter (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München), Tuesday, May 15 at 5:30PM in room A11 (USI, Lugano campus). The event is organised by the Istitute of Economics at the USI Faculty of Economics within the ‘Visiting Professor Program’ series.

In his study, Prof. Winter, together with collegues Jeffrey Grogger (University of Chicago) and Andreas Steinmayr (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München), has analysed data from a self-designed speech-module that was incorporated into the German Socio-Economic Panel Innovation Sample. Individuals that the interviewer identifies as having medium or strong regional accent earn, on average, 26% less than individuals without regional accent. These differences cannot be explained by observable differences in demographics, education, other skill measures, parental background, and place of current and past residence. Differences in wages do not exist when self-assessed measures of speech patterns are used. Winter et al. provide evidence that individuals with regional accent are less likely to work in large firms. Thus, mainstream speech without regional accent might enable individuals to participate in larger markets and thus earn a wage premium.


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