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Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin – Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores

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  • Ingo Isphording

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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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File URL: http://repec.rwi-essen.de/files/REP_13_397.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0397.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0397

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

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References

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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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Lawrence M. Kahn, 2004. "Immigration, skills and the labor market: International evidence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 501-534, 08.
  5. Ingo Isphording & Mathias Sinning, 2012. "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2012-598, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  6. Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2010. "Migration and Culture," Development Working Papers 304, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  7. Oscar Marcenaro Gutierrez & Anna Vignoles & Augustin de Coulon, 2007. "The Value of Basic Skills in the British Labour Market," CEE Discussion Papers 0077, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  8. Isphording, Ingo E. & Otten, Sebastian, 2014. "Linguistic Barriers in the Destination Language Acquisition of Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 8090, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
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