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The Impact of Exposure to Missionaries on the English Language Proficiency and Earnings of Immigrants in the USA

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  • Larsen, Nicholas
  • Chiswick, Barry R.

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore how potential exposure to missionary activity impacts both English language proficiency and labor market earnings of male and female immigrants to the United States. Design/Methodology/Approach: This study uses the pooled files of the American Community Survey (2005-09). To estimate the relationship between the missionary activity of both Protestants and Catholics on an immigrant’s English language proficiency using a linear probability model and their labor market earnings using the human capital earnings function that is estimated with an ordinary least squares model. Among other relevant variables, the analysis controls for the colonial heritage of the immigrant’s country of origin. Findings: Overall, and within colonial heritages, our results indicate that male and female immigrants from countries with a higher concentration of Protestant missionaries tend to exhibit higher levels of English language proficiency and earnings, and those from countries with a greater concentration of Catholic missionaries exhibit lower levels of both, compared to countries with lower concentrations of missionaries. Furthermore, a greater proficiency in English enhances earnings. One of the important implications of the findings in this paper is that a “missionary variable” often used in other studies is too aggregate and may mask important findings because of strikingly different effects of Protestant and Catholic activities and characteristics of the missionaries. Originality/value: This study explores for the first time how, through a missionary concentration variable, potential exposure to missionary activity impacts the English language proficiency and earnings of immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Larsen, Nicholas & Chiswick, Barry R., 2019. "The Impact of Exposure to Missionaries on the English Language Proficiency and Earnings of Immigrants in the USA," GLO Discussion Paper Series 390, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:390
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer, 2015. "The Next Generation of the Penn World Table," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3150-3182, October.
    2. 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 246-288, April.
    3. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
    4. Woodberry, Robert D., 2012. "The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 244-274, May.
    5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling and Earnings," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 41-63, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Chiswick, Barry R., 2000. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected? An Economic Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 131, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Robin Grier, 1997. "The Effect of Religion on Economic Development: A Cross National Study of 63 Former Colonies," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 47-62, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigrants; Protestant; Catholic; Missionaries; Earnings; Schooling; English Language; Proficiency; American Community Survey;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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