Modeling Immigrants' Language Skills
AbstractOne in nine people between the ages of 18 and 64 in the US, and every second foreign-born person in this age bracket, speaks Spanish at home. And whereas around 80 percent of adult immigrants in the US from non-English speaking countries other than Mexico are proficient in English, only about 50 percent of adult immigrants from Mexico are proficient. The use of a language other than English at home, and proficiency in English, are both analyzed in this paper using economic models and data from the 2000 US Census. The results demonstrate the importance of immigrants’ educational attainment, their age at migration and years spent in the US to their language skills. The immigrants’ mother tongue is also shown to affect their English proficiency; immigrants with a mother tongue more distant from English being less likely to be proficient. Finally, immigrants living in ethnic enclaves have lesser proficiency in English than immigrants who live in predominately English-speaking areas of the US. The results for females are generally very similar to those for males, the findings from an ordered probit approach to estimation are similar to the findings from a binary probit model, and the conclusions drawn from the analyses mirror those in studies based on the 1980 and 1990 US Censuses. Thus, the model of language skills presented appears to be remarkably robust across time and between the genders.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2974.
Length: 62 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2008, 27, 75-128
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
- J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-09-02 (All new papers)
- NEP-HRM-2007-09-02 (Human Capital & Human Resource Management)
- NEP-MIG-2007-09-02 (Economics of Human Migration)
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