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Immigrants' Language Skills and Visa Category

  • Chiswick, Barry R.


    (George Washington University)

  • Lee, Yew Liang


    (University of Western Australia)

  • Miller, Paul W.

    (Curtin University)

This paper is concerned with the determinants of English language proficiency among immigrants in a longitudinal survey for Australia. It focuses on both visa category and variables derived from an economic model of the determinants of destination language proficiency among immigrants. Skills tested and economic immigrants have the greatest proficiency shortly after immigration, followed by family-based visa recipients, with refugees having the lowest proficiency. These differences disappear by 3 ½ years after immigration for speaking skills, but they persist for reading and writing skills. The variables generated from the model of destination language proficiency are in part predictions of visa category and are more important statistically for explaining proficiency. The effects of some variables on language skills increase with duration in these longitudinal data. In particular, the efficiency variable, age, and gender, which may be reflecting differences in labor market attachment, increase in importance over time.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 471.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: International Migration Review, 2006, 40 (2), 419-450
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp471
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  1. Barry R. Chiswick & Yew Liang Lee & Paul W. Miller, 2002. "Family Matters: The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Destination Language Acquisition," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 02-06, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  2. Barry R. Chiswick, 2000. "A Model of Immigrant Language Acquisition: Application to Male Immigrants in Canada," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 149, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. Psacharopoulos, George, 1979. "On the weak versus the strong version of the screening hypothesis," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 181-185.
  4. Dustmann, Christian, 1994. "Speaking Fluency, Writing Fluency and Earnings of Migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 133-56.
  5. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1981. "Qualitative Response Models: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 1483-1536, December.
  6. Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigration Policy and Immigrant Quality: The Australian Points System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 192-197, May.
  7. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
  8. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1994. "Language Choice among Immigrants in a Multi-lingual Destination," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 119-31.
  9. Barry Chiswick & Paul Miller, 2001. "A model of destination-language acquisition: Application to male immigrants in Canada," Demography, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 391-409, August.
  10. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul M, 1996. "Ethnic Networks and Language Proficiency among Immigrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 19-35, February.
  11. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigration, Language and Multiculturalism in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 32(4), pages 369-385.
  12. 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 246-88, April.
  13. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-70, April.
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