Language and consumption

Haining Wang, Zhiming Cheng*, Russell Smyth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the relationship between proficiency in Mandarin and consumption in China. We find that proficiency in Mandarin has a positive effect on an individual's total consumption expenditure as well as most categories of consumption expenditure. We also find considerable heterogeneity in the effects of Mandarin proficiency on consumption across subsamples. In addition, we find that proficiency in Mandarin has a positive effect on relative consumption, irrespective of the manner in which the reference group is defined. Our results have important policy implications for debates on the promotion of a national language and, in particular, recent debate about the promotion of speaking Mandarin in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-151
Number of pages17
JournalChina Economic Review
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Mandarin proficiency
  • Consumption
  • Human capital
  • China


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