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Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin: Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores

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  • Isphording, Ingo E.

    ()
    (IZA)

Abstract

This study quantifies the disadvantage in the formation of literacy skills of immigrants that arises from the linguistic distance between mother tongue and host country language. Combining unique cross-country data on literacy scores with information on the linguistic distance between languages, gaps in literacy test scores are estimated. Linguistically distant immigrants face significant initial disadvantages of linguistic origin that exceed existing differentials across wage distributions and between employed and unemployed subpopulations. The importance of the linguistic origin increases with the age at migration, confirming the linguistic Critical Period hypothesis. Assimilation in literacy scores is moderate and does not offset the initial disadvantage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7360.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7360

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Keywords: human capital; literacy; linguistic distance; immigrants;

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  1. Ingo E. Isphording & Sebastian Otten, 2012. "The Costs of Babylon – Linguistic Distance in Applied Economics," Ruhr Economic Papers 0337, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  2. Augustin De Coulon & Oscar Marcenaro-Gutierrez & Anna Vignoles, 2007. "The value of basic skills in the British labour market," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19398, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Ana Ferrer & David A. Green & W. Craig Riddell, 2006. "The Effect of Literacy on Immigrant Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  4. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  5. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2004. "Immigration, skills and the labor market: International evidence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 501-534, 08.
  6. Gil Epstein & Ira Gang, 2010. "Migration and Culture," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1020, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  7. Dougherty, Christopher, 2003. "Numeracy, literacy and earnings: evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 511-521, October.
  8. Ingo Isphording & Mathias Sinning, 2012. "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market," Ruhr Economic Papers 0391, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  9. A. Gonzalez, 2000. "The acquisition and labor market value of four English skills: new evidence from NALS," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(3), pages 259-269, 07.
  10. Ingo E. Isphording & Sebastian Otten, 2011. "Linguistic Distance and the Language Fluency of Immigrants," Ruhr Economic Papers 0274, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  11. Ross Finnie & Ronald Meng, 2005. "Literacy and labour market outcomes: self-assessment versus test score measures," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(17), pages 1935-1951.
  12. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
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