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Whether acquiring a second language affords any general advantages to executive function has been a matter of fierce scientific debate for decades. If being bilingual does have benefits over and above the broader social, employment, and lifestyle gains that are available to speakers of a second language, then it should manifest as a cognitive advantage in the general population of bilinguals. We assessed 11,041 participants on a broad battery of 12 executive tasks whose functional and neural properties have been well described. Bilinguals showed an advantage over monolinguals on only one test (whereas monolinguals performed better on four tests), and these effects all disappeared when the groups were matched to remove potentially confounding factors. In any case, the size of the positive bilingual effect in the unmatched groups was so small that it would likely have a negligible impact on the cognitive performance of any individual.