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

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  • Cahit Guven
  • Asadul Islam

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Cahit Guven & Asadul Islam, 2013. "Age at Migration, Language Proficiency and Socio-economic Outcomes: Evidence from Australia," Monash Economics Working Papers 18-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2013-18
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ingwersen, Kai & Thomsen, Stephan L, 2019. "The Immigrant-Native Wage Gap in Germany Revisited," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-653, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    2. Cahit Guven & Mevlude Akbulut‐Yuksel & Mutlu Yuksel, 2019. "Do English Skills Affect Muslim Immigrants’ Economic and Social Integration Differentially?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 95(310), pages 279-300, September.
    3. Marcus Dillender, 2017. "English Skills and the Health Insurance Coverage of Immigrants," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 3(3), pages 312-345, Summer.
    4. Cheng, Zhiming & Wang, Ben Zhe & Jiang, Zhou & Taksa, Lucy & Tani, Massimiliano, 2020. "English Skills and Early Labour Market Integration: Evidence from Humanitarian Migrants in Australia," GLO Discussion Paper Series 672, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Gevrek, Deniz & Gevrek, Z. Eylem & Guven, Cahit, 2020. "The Relationship between Early-Life Conditions in the Home Country and Adult Outcomes among Child Immigrants in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 13602, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Fenoll, Ainhoa Aparicio, 2018. "English proficiency and mathematics test scores of immigrant children in the US," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 102-113.
    7. Pieroni, Luca & d'Agostino, Giorgio & Lanari, Donatella, 2019. "The effects of language skills on immigrant employment and wages in Italy," MPRA Paper 91725, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Yu Aoki & Lualhati Santiago, 2015. "Fertility, Health and Education of UK Immigrants: The Role of English Language Skills," CINCH Working Paper Series 1510, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    9. Zorlu, Aslan & Hartog, Joop, 2018. "The Impact of Language on Socioeconomic Integration of Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 11485, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Lemmermann, Dominique & Riphahn, Regina T., 2018. "The causal effect of age at migration on youth educational attainment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 78-99.
    11. Sheruni De Alwis & Nick Parr & Fei Guo, 2020. "The Education–Occupation (Mis)Match of Asia-Born Immigrants in Australia," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 39(3), pages 519-548, June.
    12. Haining Wang & Zhiming Cheng & Russell Smyth, 2016. "Language, Health Outcomes and Health Inequality," Monash Economics Working Papers 43-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    13. Zachary Ward, 2016. "The Role of English Fluency in Migrant Assimilation: Evidence from United States History," CEH Discussion Papers 049, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    14. Chiswick, Barry R. & Rebhun, Uzi & Beider, Nadia, 2016. "Linguistic and Economic Adjustment among Immigrants in Israel," IZA Discussion Papers 10214, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. To, Hang & Grafton, R. Quentin & Regan, Sue, 2017. "Immigration and labour market outcomes in Australia: Findings from HILDA 2001–2014," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1-13.
    16. Aoki, Yu & Santiago, Lualhati, 2018. "Speak better, do better? Education and health of migrants in the UK," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-17.
    17. Cheng, Zhiming & Wang, Ben & Jiang, Zhou & Taksa, Lucy & Tani, Massimiliano, 2020. "English Skills and Early Labour Market Integration of Humanitarian Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 13728, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Jaai Parasnis & Jemma Swan, 2017. "Differences in educational attainment by country of origin: Evidence from Australia," Monash Economics Working Papers 05-17, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    19. Aoki, Yu & Santiago, Lualhati, 2015. "Education, Health and Fertility of UK Immigrants: The Role of English Language Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 9498, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Are Skeie Hermansen, 2017. "Age at Arrival and Life Chances Among Childhood Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 201-229, February.
    21. Mary Antonia Silles, 2018. "The Effects of Language Skills on the Economic Assimilation of Female Immigrants in the United States," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 86(6), pages 789-815, December.
    22. Marigee Bacolod & Marcos A. Rangel, 2017. "Economic Assimilation and Skill Acquisition: Evidence From the Occupational Sorting of Childhood Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 571-602, April.
    23. Wang, Haining & Cheng, Zhiming & Smyth, Russell, 2019. "Health outcomes, health inequality and Mandarin proficiency in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-1.
    24. Clarke, Andrew & Isphording, Ingo E., 2015. "Language Barriers and Immigrant Health Production," IZA Discussion Papers 8846, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics of Immigration; English Proficiency; Socio-economic Outcomes; Instrumental Variable; Australia.;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • 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
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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