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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

  • Beckhusen, Julia

    ()
    (U.S. Census Bureau)

  • Florax, Raymond J.G.M.

    ()
    (Purdue University)

  • de Graaff, Thomas

    ()
    (VU University Amsterdam)

  • Poot, Jacques

    ()
    (University of Waikato)

  • Waldorf, Brigitte

    ()
    (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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6363.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Papers in Regional Science, 2013, 92(2), 305-328
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6363

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

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References

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  1. 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).
  2. Thomas Bauer & Gil Epstein & Ira Gang, 2005. "Enclaves, language, and the location choice of migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 649-662, November.
  3. Harrie Verbon & Lex Meijdam, 2008. "Too many migrants, too few services: a model of decision-making on immigration and integration with cultural distance," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 665-677, July.
  4. Barry Chiswick & Yew Lee & Paul Miller, 2005. "Family matters: the role of the family in immigrants' destination language acquisition," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 631-647, November.
  5. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  6. Eli Berman & Kevin Lang & Erez Siniver, 2000. "Language-Skill Complementarity: Returns to Immigrant Language Acquisition," NBER Working Papers 7737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2002. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects and Inequality," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0217, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  8. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 1999. "Language skills and earnings among legalized aliens," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 63-89.
  9. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
  10. Borjas, George J., 1998. "To Ghetto or Not to Ghetto: Ethnicity and Residential Segregation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 228-253, September.
  11. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," IZA Discussion Papers 449, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Florax, Raymond J.G.M. & Graaff, Thomas de & Waldorf, Brigitte S., 2004. "A spatial economic perspective on language acquisition : segregation, networking and assimilation of immigrants," Serie Research Memoranda 0006, VU University Amsterdam, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Econometrics.
  13. Judith HELLERSTEIN & David NEUMARK, 2003. "Ethnicity, Language, and Workplace Segregation: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Data Set," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 71-72, pages 19-78.
  14. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  15. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigrant Earnings: Language Skills, Linguistic Concentrations and the Business Cycle," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 152, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  16. 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).
  17. Dominique M. Gross & Nicolas Schmitt, 2003. "The Role of Cultural Clustering in Attracting New Immigrants," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 295-318.
  18. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1994. "Language Choice among Immigrants in a Multi-lingual Destination," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 119-31.
  19. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul M, 1996. "Ethnic Networks and Language Proficiency among Immigrants," Journal of Population Economics, 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 1403, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.

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