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Pre- to Post-Migration Occupational Mobility of First Generation Immigrants to Sweden from 1970–1990: Examining the Influence of Linguistic Distance

  • Jonas Helgertz

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    The article examines the influence of linguistic distance on the labor market outcomes of a sample of 5,041 first generation immigrants in Sweden between 1970 and 1990. The article exploits register data from the Swedish Longitudinal Database, examining a population of individuals from 11 non-Nordic countries of origin. The analysis focuses on the transition to the Swedish labor market, comparing the last occupation before migration with the first occupation after, measured by the ISEI score. Using OLS regression, the results finds important differences in the initial labor market outcomes that are linked to the individual’s linguistic distance. More specifically, individuals proficient in languages belonging to the same language family as Swedish and familiar with the Latin alphabet are found to enjoy an advantage in the initial transition to the Swedish labor market. This finding exists net of the influence of the individual’s region of origin, and is particularly accentuated among formally highly skilled males. This appears to confirm the comparatively large demands for destination-specific skills in high-status occupations, favoring linguistically more proximate individuals. Among females, no consistent advantage among the linguistically most proximate can be observed among the formally highly skilled, potentially explained by differing selection mechanisms into the labor market. In general, however, the mechanisms through which linguistic distance affects the individual’s initial occupation in Sweden appear to operate similarly along gender lines. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11113-013-9274-9
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Population Research and Policy Review.

    Volume (Year): 32 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (June)
    Pages: 437-467

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    Handle: RePEc:kap:poprpr:v:32:y:2013:i:3:p:437-467
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    1. Yann Algan & Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz & Alan Manning, 2009. "The Economic Situation of First- and Second-Generation Immigrants in France, Germany and the United Kingdom," CEP Discussion Papers dp0951, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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    12. John Iceland & Melissa Scopilliti, 2008. "Immigrant residential segregation in U.S. metropolitan areas, 1990–2000," Demography, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 79-94, February.
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    14. Dustmann, Christian, 1994. "Speaking Fluency, Writing Fluency and Earnings of Migrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 905, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. 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.
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