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Negative and Positive Assimilation, Skill Transferability, and Linguistic Distance

Author

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  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    () (George Washington University)

  • Miller, Paul W.

    (Curtin University)

Abstract

There are two complementary models of immigrants’ economic and social adjustment – the positive assimilation model of Chiswick (1978, 1979), and the negative assimilation model of Chiswick and Miller (2011). The negative assimilation model is applicable for immigrants from countries that are very similar in terms of the transferability of skills, culture, and labor market institutions to the host country, and has been tested previously primarily using migration among the English-speaking developed countries. This paper generalizes the negative/positive assimilation models through analyzing the post-arrival earnings profiles of immigrants in the US from non-English-speaking countries according to the linguistic distance of their mother tongue from English. Using data on adult male immigrants from the 2000 US Census, it is shown that all groups of immigrants from non-English-speaking countries are characterized by positive assimilation. Earnings in the immediate post-arrival period are lowest for the language groups furthest from English, and the increase in earnings with duration is steeper the further the immigrant's mother tongue is from English. The linguistic distance of the immigrants' mother tongue from the destination language appears, therefore, to play a crucial role in generating the inverse relationship between post-arrival earnings growth and the initial earnings disadvantage documented in most studies of immigrant earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2011. "Negative and Positive Assimilation, Skill Transferability, and Linguistic Distance," IZA Discussion Papers 5420, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5420
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 2002. "Immigrant earnings: Language skills, linguistic concentrations and the business cycle," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, pages 31-57.
    2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Kerry L. Papps, 2008. "Gender, Source Country Characteristics and Labor Market Assimilation Among Immigrants: 1980-2000," NBER Working Papers 14387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2008. "The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Special Case," IZA Discussion Papers 3563, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 2002. "Immigrant earnings: Language skills, linguistic concentrations and the business cycle," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, pages 31-57.
    5. 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).
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    Cited by:

    1. Strom, Steinar & Venturini, Alessandra & Villosio, Claudia, 2013. "Wage Assimilation: Migrants versus Natives and Foreign Migrants versus Internal Migrants," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201341, University of Turin.
    2. Peter Huber, 2015. "What Institutions help immigrants Integrate?," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 77, WWWforEurope.
    3. Marco DELOGU & Frédéric DOCQUIER & Joël MACHADO, 2013. "The dynamic implications of liberalizing global migration," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013029, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    4. Julia Bock-Schappelwein & Peter Huber, 2016. "Integrating Asylum Seekers in the Austrian Labour Market," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 89(3), pages 157-169, March.
    5. Vaira-Lucero, Matias & Nahm, Daehoon & Tani, Massimiliano, 2012. "Socioeconomic Assimilation and Wealth Accumulation of Migrants in Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 6969, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. repec:zbw:rwirep:0398 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 2015. "Negative and Positive Assimilation by Prices and by Quantities," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 18(1), pages 5-28.
    8. Isphording, Ingo, 2013. "Returns to Local and Foreign Language Skills – Causal Evidence from Spain," Ruhr Economic Papers 398, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    9. Massimiliano Tani & Christopher Heaton & Gavin Chan, 2013. "The Wage Premium of Foreign Education: New Evidence from Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 46(4), pages 395-404, December.
    10. Edward P. Lazear, 2017. "Why Are Some Immigrant Groups More Successful than Others?," NBER Working Papers 23548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Martin Kahanec, 2013. "Labor mobility in an enlarged European Union," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 7, pages 137-152 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Sweetman, A. & van Ours, J.C., 2014. "Immigration : What About the Children and Grandchildren?," Discussion Paper 2014-009, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    13. Bloemen, Hans, 2013. "Language Proficiency of Migrants: The Relation with Job Satisfaction and Matching," IZA Discussion Papers 7366, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Johanna Catherine Maclean & Douglas Webber & Jody L. Sindelar, 2015. "Immigration and access to fringe benefits: Evidence from the Tobacco Use Supplements," DETU Working Papers 1503, Department of Economics, Temple University.
    15. Ayumi Takenaka & Makiko Nakamuro & Kenji Ishida, 2016. "Negative Assimilation: How Immigrants Experience Economic Mobility in Japan," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 506-533, June.
    16. Tani, Massimiliano, 2012. "Does immigration policy affect the education--occupation mismatch? Evidence from Australia," Australian Bulletin of Labour, National Institute of Labour Studies, vol. 38(2), pages 111-141.
    17. Boutin, Delphine, 2016. "Migration Experience and Access to a First Job in Uganda," IZA Discussion Papers 10119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Ingo Isphording, 2013. "Returns to Local and Foreign Language Skills – Causal Evidence from Spain," Ruhr Economic Papers 0398, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    assimilation; skill transferability; linguistic distance; immigrants; earnings;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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