Negative and Positive Assimilation, Skill Transferability, and Linguistic Distance
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.
|Date of creation:||Jan 2011|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published in: Journal of Human Capital, 2012, 6 (1), 35-55|
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- Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Papps, Kerry L., 2008.
"Gender, Source Country Characteristics and Labor Market Assimilation among Immigrants: 1980-2000,"
IZA Discussion Papers
3725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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- 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, vol. 15(1), pages 31-57.
- Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigrant Earnings: Language Skills, Linguistic Concentrations and the Business Cycle," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 152, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
- 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).
- Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2010. "The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Special Case," SULCIS Working Papers 2010:9, Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
- 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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