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Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias among Immigrant Children

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  • Akresh, Richard

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Redstone Akresh, Ilana

    () (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Abstract

We use Woodcock Johnson III child assessment data in the New Immigrant Survey to examine language assimilation and test score bias among children of Hispanic immigrants. Our identification strategy exploits the test language randomization (Spanish or English) to quantitatively measure the degree and speed of language assimilation, in addition to the potential costs associated with taking a test in one’s non-dominant language. We find that U.S. born children of Hispanic immigrants are not bilingual as predicted by most language assimilation models but rather are English dominant. English language assimilation occurs at a rapid pace for foreign born children as well; children who arrive in the U.S. at an early age or who have spent more than four years in the U.S. do not benefit from taking the tests in Spanish. Results are robust to a fixed effects specification that controls for household level characteristics constant across siblings.

Suggested Citation

  • Akresh, Richard & Redstone Akresh, Ilana, 2008. "Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias among Immigrant Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3532, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3532
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Isphording, Ingo E. & Piopiunik, Marc & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2016. "Speaking in numbers: The effect of reading performance on math performance among immigrants," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 52-56.
    2. Ciro Avitabile & Irma Clots-Figueras & Paolo Masella, 2013. "The Effect of Birthright Citizenship on Parental Integration Outcomes," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(3), pages 777-810.
    3. Nancy Landale & Stephanie Lanza & Marianne Hillemeier & R.S. Oropesa, 2013. "Health and development among Mexican, black and white preschool children: An integrative approach using latent class analysis," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 28(44), pages 1302-1338, June.
    4. Gindling, T. H. & Poggio, Sara Z., 2010. "The Effect of Family Separation and Reunification on the Educational Success of Immigrant Children in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 4887, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Giannelli, Gianna Claudia & Rapallini, Chiara, 2016. "Immigrant student performance in Math: Does it matter where you come from?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 291-304.
    6. Tim H. Gindling & Sara Z. Poggio, 2008. "Family Separation and Reunification as a Factor in the Educational Success of Immigrant Children," UMBC Economics Department Working Papers 09-104, UMBC Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    New Immigrant Survey; Woodcock Johnson achievement tests; immigration; language assimilation;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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