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Say it like Goethe: Language learning facilities abroad and the self-selection of immigrants

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  • Jaschke, Philipp
  • Keita, Sekou

Abstract

Moving to rich countries usually results in substantial increases in income for migrants. However, high migration costs entail that only selected groups of potential migrants actually migrate. The availability of language learning facilities in a country could reduce costs of acquiring destination-specific skills and influence the self-selection of migrants. We combine survey data from immigrant cohorts between 2000 and 2014 with data on the country-year specific presence of Goethe Institutes – a German association promoting language acquisition and culture worldwide. We identify strong positive effects on language skills and relevant labor market-related characteristics of immigrants at arrival. The results are strongest for developing countries where opportunities to acquire foreign language skills are particularly scarce and returns to migration are the highest. Placebo regressions suggest that the effects are not driven by the demand for German language learning facilities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaschke, Philipp & Keita, Sekou, 2021. "Say it like Goethe: Language learning facilities abroad and the self-selection of immigrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:149:y:2021:i:c:s0304387820301723
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2020.102597
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    1. Omar Martin Fieles-Ahmad & Matthias Huber, 2021. "Learn German, Buy German? Language-learning opportunities abroad and exports," Jena Economic Research Papers 2021-008, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    International migration; Public policy; Human capital - Skills; Immigrant workers; Language;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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