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Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin: Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores

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  • Isphording, Ingo E.

    () (IZA)

Abstract

This study quantifies the disadvantage in the formation of literacy skills of immigrants that arises from the linguistic distance between mother tongue and host country language. Combining unique cross-country data on literacy scores with information on the linguistic distance between languages, gaps in literacy test scores are estimated. Linguistically distant immigrants face significant initial disadvantages of linguistic origin that exceed existing differentials across wage distributions and between employed and unemployed subpopulations. The importance of the linguistic origin increases with the age at migration, confirming the linguistic Critical Period hypothesis. Assimilation in literacy scores is moderate and does not offset the initial disadvantage.

Suggested Citation

  • Isphording, Ingo E., 2013. "Disadvantages of Linguistic Origin: Evidence from Immigrant Literacy Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 7360, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7360
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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. Ingo E. Isphording, 2015. "What drives the language proficiency of immigrants?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 177-177, August.
    3. Tani, Massimiliano, 2018. "Selective Immigration, Occupational Licensing, and Labour Market Outcomes of Foreign-Trained Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 11370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Gomes, Joseph, 2014. "The health costs of ethnic distance: evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-33, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    5. Himmler, Oliver & Jaeckle, Robert, 2014. "Literacy and the Migrant-Native Wage Gap," MPRA Paper 58812, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Tani, Massimiliano, 2018. "Selective immigration policies, occupational licensing, and the quality of migrants’ education-occupation match," GLO Discussion Paper Series 206, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. Clarke, Andrew & Isphording, Ingo E., 2015. "Language Barriers and Immigrant Health Production," IZA Discussion Papers 8846, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    linguistic distance; literacy; human capital; immigrants;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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