IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Age at Migration, Language Proficiency and Socio-economic Outcomes: Evidence from Australia

  • Cahit Guven
  • Asadul Islam

This paper seeks to estimate the causal effects of language proficiency on the earnings and social assimilation of Australian immigrants. Identifying the effects of languages on socio-economic outcomes is inherently difficult, due to the endogeneity of the language skills. This study exploits the phenomenon that younger children learn languages more easily than older children to construct an instrumental variable for language proficiency. To achieve this, we exploit the age at arrival of immigrants who came as children from Anglophone and non-Anglophone countries. We find English proficiency to have a significant positive effect on wages and promotions among adults who immigrated to Australia as children. English proficiency decreases the perceived risk of job loss, but leads to lower levels of health and life satisfaction. People with better English skills take more risks and drink more, and English proficiency increases the age at marriage. Partners of immigrants with better English skills drink more in general. Parents' proficiency in speaking English has a significant, positive effect on their children's English-speaking proficiency, high school achievements and occupational prestige. We show that IV estimates cannot be explained by alternative theories such as reverse causality and immigrants from English-speaking countries being a poor control group for non-language age-at-arrival effects.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Monash University, Department of Economics in its series Monash Economics Working Papers with number 18-13.

in new window

Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2013-18
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia
Phone: +61-3-9905-2493
Fax: +61-3-9905-5476
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2008. "What Holds Back the Second Generation?: The Intergenerational Transmission of Language Human Capital Among Immigrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 267-298.
  2. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2011. "The Long Reach of Childhood Health and Circumstance: Evidence from the Whitehall II Study," Working Papers 1286, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. 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.
  4. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Stephen J. Trejo, . "Immigration Policy and the Skills of Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2001-26, Claremont Colleges.
  5. Jong-Wha Lee & Robert J. Barro, 1997. "Schooling Quality in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 6198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2009. "Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation Among U.S. Immigrants," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0913, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  7. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the earnings of immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
  8. Teresa Casey & Christian Dustmann, 2008. "Intergenerational Transmission of Language Capital and Economic Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 4660-687.
  9. Sarah Brown & Karl Taylor, 2008. "Reservation Wages, Expected Wages and Labour Market Outcomes: Analysis of Individual Level Panel Data," Working Papers 2008008, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2008.
  10. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes and consequences of early-life health," Demography, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages S65-S85, March.
  11. Andrew Clarke & Mikal Skuterud, 2014. "Immigrant Skill Selection and Utilizatin: A Comparative Analysis of Australia, Canada, and the United States," Working Papers 1404, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2014.
  12. Battu, Harminder & Seaman, Paul T & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Job Contact Networks and the Ethnic Minorities," CEPR Discussion Papers 5225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri, 2003. "Language proficiency and labour market performance of immigrants in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 695-717, 07.
  14. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  15. Xin Meng & Robert G. Gregory, 2005. "Intermarriage and the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 135-176, January.
  16. Gray Swicegood & Frank Bean & Elizabeth Stephen & Wolfgang Opitz, 1988. "Language usage and fertility in the Mexican-origin population of the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 17-33, February.
  17. Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Job Search Methods and Their Success: A Comparison of Immigrants and Natives in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages F359-F376, November.
  18. Daneshvary, Nasser, et al, 1992. "Job Search and Immigrant Assimilation: An Earnings Frontier Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 482-92, August.
  19. M. Keith Chen, 2013. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 690-731, April.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2013-18. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Simon Angus)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.