Globalization, transnational human capital, and employment in the European Union Articles uri icon

publication date

  • December 2016

start page

  • 449

end page

  • 470


  • 6


  • 57

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0020-7152

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1745-2554


  • The literature claims that the returns to transnational human capital (THC) are considerable and extend beyond firms that use it. This article critically appraises this claim and for the first time compares the employment returns to three types of THC: fluency in foreign languages, study abroad, and friendship ties abroad. The Eurobarometer 73.3 reveals that fluency in English alone is related to employment status, a relationship that based on the statistical evidence presented here may actually be spurious. The findings reflect that demand for THC is less strong and THC has less signaling and symbolic value than the literature assumes.


  • employment; european union; languages; quantitative analysis; transnational human capital; foreign-language skills; earnings; immigrants; returns; world; cosmopolitan; english; city; stratification; bilingualism