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Occupational Choice of High Skilled Immigrants in the United States

Author

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  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    () (George Washington University)

  • Taengnoi, Sarinda

    () (Western New England College)

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of English language proficiency and country of origin on the occupational choice of high-skilled immigrants in the U.S. using the 2000 Census. The findings reveal that high-skilled immigrants with limited proficiency in English, or whose mother tongue is linguistically distant from English, are more likely to be in occupations in which English communication skills are not very important, such as computer and engineering occupations. Moreover, the degree of exposure to English prior to immigration is found to have little influence on selecting occupations in the U.S. The paper also shows that immigrants from some origins with little exposure to English and whose native language is far from English tend to be in some “speaking-intensive” occupations, in particular social services occupations. These occupations may not require workers to be fluent in English if they mostly provide services to immigrants from their same linguistic background.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiswick, Barry R. & Taengnoi, Sarinda, 2007. "Occupational Choice of High Skilled Immigrants in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 2969, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2969
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Julian R. Betts & Magnus Lofstrom, 2000. "The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 51-116 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. 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 246-288, April.
    4. Dustmann, Christian, 1999. " Temporary Migration, Human Capital, and Language Fluency of Migrants," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(2), pages 297-314, June.
    5. Barry R Chiswick & Paul W Miller, 2007. "Matching Language Proficiency to Occupation: The Effect on Immigrants' Earnings," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 07-07, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    6. Dustmann, Christian, 1994. "Speaking Fluency, Writing Fluency and Earnings of Migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, pages 133-156.
    7. Berman, Eli & Lang, Kevin & Siniver, Erez, 2003. "Language-skill complementarity: returns to immigrant language acquisition," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 265-290, June.
    8. Geoffrey Carliner, 1995. "The Language Ability of U.S. Immigrants: Assimilation and Cohort Effects," NBER Working Papers 5222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2004. "Linguistic Distance: A Quantitative Measure of the Distance Between English and Other Languages," IZA Discussion Papers 1246, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Guillermina Jasso & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2000. "The Changing Skill of New Immigrants to the United States: Recent Trends and Their Determinants," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 185-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nir Jaimovich & Henry E. Siu, 2017. "High-Skilled Immigration, STEM Employment, and Non-Routine-Biased Technical Change," NBER Chapters,in: High-Skilled Migration to the United States and its Economic Consequences National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Gao, Wenshu & Smyth, Russell, 2011. "Economic returns to speaking 'standard Mandarin' among migrants in China's urban labour market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 342-352, April.
    3. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2011. "Highly Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 385-411, July.
    4. Krishna Patel & Yevgeniya Savchenko & Francis Vella, 2013. "Occupational sorting of ethnic groups," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 12, pages 227-241 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    occupation; English proficiency; immigrants; high-skilled workers;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • 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

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