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Living and Working in Ethnic Enclaves: Language Proficiency of Immigrants in U.S. Metropolitan Areas

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Author Info

  • Julia Beckhusen

    ()
    (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Raymond J.G.M. Florax

    ()
    (Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, Department of Spatial Economics, VU University and Tinbergen Institute.)

  • Thomas de Graaff

    ()
    (Department of Spatial Economics, VU University Amsterdam)

  • Jacques Poot

    ()
    (National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato)

  • Brigitte Waldorf

    ()
    (Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University)

Abstract

Learning English is a potentially profitable investment for immigrants in the U.S.: while there are initial costs, the subsequent benefits include the ability to communicate with the majority of the population, potentially leading to better paying jobs and economic success in the new country. These payoffs are lessened if immigrants choose to live and work in ethnic enclaves where the necessity to communicate in English is weak. Ethnic enclaves are widespread and persistent in the U.S. This study uses data from the 2010 American Community Survey to examine the impact of residential and occupational segregation on immigrants' ability to speak English. We allow for heterogeneity in the relationship between segregation and English language proficiency across ethnic groups and focus specifically on Mexican and Chinese immigrants. Our results show that immigrants in the U.S. who live and work among high concentrations of their countrymen are less likely to be proficient in English than those who are less residentially and occupationally segregated. The magnitude of the effect of segregation on language proficiency varies across immigrants' birthplaces and other salient characteristics defining the immigration context.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 1203.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:1203

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Keywords: U.S. immigration; language acquisition; ethnic enclaves; residential segregation; occupational segregation.;

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References

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  1. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1994. "Language Choice among Immigrants in a Multi-lingual Destination," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 119-31.
  2. Chiswick, Barry R. & Lee, Yew Liang & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Family Matters: The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Destination Language Acquisition," IZA Discussion Papers 460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Raymond J G M Florax & Thomas de Graaff & Brigitte S Waldorf, 2005. "A spatial economic perspective on language acquisition: segregation, networking, and assimilation of immigrants," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 37(10), pages 1877-1897, October.
  4. Berman, Eli & Lang, Kevin & Siniver, Erez, 2003. "Language-skill complementarity: returns to immigrant language acquisition," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 265-290, June.
  5. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," IZA Discussion Papers 449, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  7. Ira N. Gang & Thomas Bauer & Gil S. Epstein, 2002. "Enclaves, Language and the Location Choice of Migrants," Departmental Working Papers, Rutgers University, Department of Economics 200217, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  8. George J. Borjas, 1997. "To Ghetto or Not to Ghetto: Ethnicity and Residential Segregation," NBER Working Papers 6176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 2002. "Immigrant earnings: Language skills, linguistic concentrations and the business cycle," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 31-57.
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  12. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 1999. "Language skills and earnings among legalized aliens," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 63-89.
  13. Andersson, Fredrik & Burgess, Simon & Lane, Julia, 2009. "Do as the Neighbors Do: The Impact of Social Networks on Immigrant Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 4423, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2002. "Ethnicity, Language, and Workplace Segregation: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Data Set," NBER Working Papers 9037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Chiswick, Barry R. & Lee, Yew Liang & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "The Determinants of the Geographic Concentration among Immigrants: Application to Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 462, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Dominique M. Gross & Nicolas Schmitt, 2003. "The Role of Cultural Clustering in Attracting New Immigrants," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 295-318.
  17. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
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  19. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul M, 1996. "Ethnic Networks and Language Proficiency among Immigrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 19-35, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Benjamin Elsner & Gaia Narciso & Jacco J. J. Thijssen, 2014. "Migrant Networks and the Spread of Misinformation," CReAM Discussion Paper Series, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London 1403, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.

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