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The Linguistic and Economic Adjustment of Soviet Jewish Immigrants in the United States, 1980 to 2000

Author

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  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    () (George Washington University)

  • Wenz, Michael

    (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Abstract

This paper is an analysis of the English-language proficiency and labor market earnings of adult male Soviet Jewish immigrants to the United States from 1965 to 2000, using the 2000 Census of Population. Comparisons are made to similar analyses using the 1980 and 1990 Censuses. A consistent finding is that recently arrived Soviet Jewish immigrants have lower levels of English proficiency and earnings than other immigrants, other variables being the same. However, they have a steeper improvement in both proficiency and earnings with duration in the United States and the differences from the other European immigrants disappear after a few years. The Soviet Jewish immigrants have both a higher level of schooling and a larger effect of schooling on earnings than other immigrants, even other European immigrants. The lower initial English proficiency and earnings, the steeper improvement with duration and the rapid attainment of parity is consistent with the "refugee" nature of their migration, as distinct from being purely economic migrants. That the same pattern exists across three censuses suggests that the low English proficiency and earnings of those recently arrived in the 2000 Census data reflects a refugee assimilation process, and not a decline in the unmeasured dimensions of the earnings potential of recent cohorts of Soviet Jewish immigrants. The very high level of schooling and the larger effect of schooling on earnings among Soviet Jewish immigrants is similar to the patterns found among Jews born in the United States. Soviet Jewish immigrants appear to have made a very successful linguistic and labor market adjustment, regardless of their period of entry into the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiswick, Barry R. & Wenz, Michael, 2005. "The Linguistic and Economic Adjustment of Soviet Jewish Immigrants in the United States, 1980 to 2000," IZA Discussion Papers 1726, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1726
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. B.R. Chiswick & P.W. Miller, 2000. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 00-19, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    2. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
    3. Barry R. Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected? An Economic Analysis," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 147, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chiswick, Barry R. & Rebhun, Uzi & Beider, Nadia, 2016. "Linguistic and Economic Adjustment among Immigrants in Israel," IZA Discussion Papers 10214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Uzi Rebhun, 2009. "Housing Adjustment Among Immigrants in Israel: Application of Complementary Non-Metric and Metric Techniques," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 92(3), pages 565-590, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigrants; language proficiency; earnings; Jews; Soviet Union;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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