IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/zbw/rwirep/274.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Linguistic Distance and the Language Fluency of Immigrants

Author

Listed:
  • Isphording, Ingo E.
  • Otten, Sebastian

Abstract

We use a newly available measure of linguistic distance developed by the German Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology to explain heterogeneity in language skills of immigrants. This measure is based on an automatical algorithm comparing pronunciation and vocabulary of language pairs. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel covering the period from 1997 to 2003, the linguistic distance measure is applied within a human capital framework of language acquisition. It is shown that linguistic distance is the most important determinant for host country language acquisition and that it explains a large fraction of language skill heterogeneity between immigrants. By lowering the effi ciency and imposing higher costs of language learning, the probability of reporting good language skills is decreasing by increasing linguistic distance.

Suggested Citation

  • Isphording, Ingo E. & Otten, Sebastian, 2011. "Linguistic Distance and the Language Fluency of Immigrants," Ruhr Economic Papers 274, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:rwirep:274
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/61444/1/722289138.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Christian Dustmann & Arthur van Soest, 2001. "Language Fluency And Earnings: Estimation With Misclassified Language Indicators," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 663-674, November.
    2. Alesina, Alberto & Devleeschauwer, Arnaud & Easterly, William & Kurlat, Sergio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2003. "Fractionalization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 155-194, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Ben Jann, 2007. "Making regression tables simplified," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 7(2), pages 227-244, June.
    5. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2009. "The Diffusion of Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 469-529.
    6. Cutler, David M. & Glaeser, Edward L. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2008. "When are ghettos bad? Lessons from immigrant segregation in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 759-774, May.
    7. Danzer, Alexander M. & Yaman, Firat, 2010. "Ethnic Concentration and Language Fluency of Immigrants in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 4742, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Thomas Bauer & Gil Epstein & Ira Gang, 2005. "Enclaves, language, and the location choice of migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(4), pages 649-662, November.
    9. Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2010. "Migration and Culture," Working Papers 2010-17, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    10. 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.
    11. Lohmann, Johannes, 2011. "Do language barriers affect trade?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 159-162, February.
    12. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-251, April.
    13. Alícia Adserà & Mariola Pytliková, 2015. "The Role of Language in Shaping International Migration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(586), pages 49-81, August.
    14. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 2007. "Modeling Immigrants’ Language Skills," Research in Labor Economics, in: Barry R. Chiswick (ed.), Immigration, volume 27, pages 75-128, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    15. Petroni, Filippo & Serva, Maurizio, 2010. "Measures of lexical distance between languages," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 389(11), pages 2280-2283.
    16. Estefania Santacreu-Vasut & Amir Shoham & Victor Gay, 2013. "Do female/male distinctions in language matter? Evidence from gender political quotas," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(5), pages 495-498, March.
    17. Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2009. "Linguistic Diversity and Redistribution," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1291-1318, December.
    18. Barry Chiswick & Paul Miller, 2001. "A model of destination-language acquisition: Application to male immigrants in Canada," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(3), pages 391-409, August.
    19. Michèle Belot & Sjef Ederveen, 2012. "Cultural barriers in migration between OECD countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(3), pages 1077-1105, July.
    20. 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, July.
    21. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-170, April.
    22. Christian Dustmann, 1999. "Temporary Migration, Human Capital, and Language Fluency of Migrants," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(2), pages 297-314, June.
    23. 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.
    24. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    25. Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
    26. Ingo Eduard Isphording & Sebastian Otten, 2013. "The Costs of Babylon—Linguistic Distance in Applied Economics," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 354-369, 05.
    27. Dustmann, Christian, 1994. "Speaking Fluency, Writing Fluency and Earnings of Migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 7(2), pages 133-156.
    28. repec:zbw:rwirep:0337 is not listed on IDEAS
    29. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-130, April.
    30. Greene,William H. & Hensher,David A., 2010. "Modeling Ordered Choices," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521142373, December.
    31. M. Keith Chen, 2011. "The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1820, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Dec 2012.
    32. Greene,William H. & Hensher,David A., 2010. "Modeling Ordered Choices," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521194204, December.
    33. Geoffrey Carliner, 1981. "Wage Differences by Language Group and the Market for Language Skills in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(3), pages 384-399.
    34. 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.
    35. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the Earnings of Immigrants," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
    36. World Bank, 2011. "Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011 : Second Edition," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2522, June.
    37. Bercedis Peterson & Frank E. Harrell, 1990. "Partial Proportional Odds Models for Ordinal Response Variables," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series C, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 39(2), pages 205-217, June.
    38. Richard Williams, 2006. "Generalized ordered logit/partial proportional odds models for ordinal dependent variables," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(1), pages 58-82, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. repec:zbw:rwirep:0274 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2014. "International Migration and the Economics of Language," IZA Discussion Papers 7880, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Dustmann, Christian & Glitz, Albrecht, 2011. "Migration and Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 327-439, Elsevier.
    4. Aldashev, Alisher & Gernandt, Johannes & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2009. "Language usage, participation, employment and earnings: Evidence for foreigners in West Germany with multiple sources of selection," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 330-341, June.
    5. Danzer, Alexander M. & Yaman, Firat, 2016. "Ethnic concentration and language fluency of immigrants: Evidence from the guest-worker placement in Germany," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 151-165.
    6. Åslund, Olof & Engdahl, Mattias, 2018. "The value of earning for learning: Performance bonuses in immigrant language training," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 192-204.
    7. 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.
    8. Lang Kevin & Siniver Erez, 2009. "The Return to English in a Non-English Speaking Country: Russian Immigrants and Native Israelis in Israel," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-30, November.
    9. Alexander M. Danzer & Firat Yaman, 2010. "Ethnic Concentration and Language Fluency of Immigrants in Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 277, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    10. Ingo E. Isphording, 2013. "Returns to Foreign Language Skills of Immigrants in Spain," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 27(4), pages 443-461, December.
    11. Chiswick, Barry R., 2008. "The Economics of Language: An Introduction and Overview," IZA Discussion Papers 3568, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Budría, Santiago & Swedberg, Pablo, 2014. "The Impact of Multilingualism on Spanish Language Acquisition among Immigrants in Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 8748, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Oliver Himmler & Robert Jäckle, 2018. "Literacy and the Migrant–Native Wage Gap," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 64(3), pages 592-625, September.
    14. Davia, María A. & Wang, Ting & Gámez, Matías, 2019. "Language proficiency and immigrants’ labor market outcomes in post-crisis Spain," MPRA Paper 94795, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Sorrenti, Giuseppe, 2017. "The Spanish or the German apartment? Study abroad and the acquisition of permanent skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 142-158.
    16. Wang, Zhiling & de Graaff, Thomas & Nijkamp, Peter, 2018. "Barriers of Culture, Networks, and Language in International Migration: A Review," REGION, European Regional Science Association, vol. 5, pages 73-89.
    17. repec:zbw:rwirep:0398 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Isphording, Ingo E., 2014. "Disadvantages of linguistic origin—Evidence from immigrant literacy scores," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(2), pages 236-239.
    19. Isphording, Ingo & Sinning, Mathias, 2012. "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market," Ruhr Economic Papers 391, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    20. Ingo Isphording & Mathias Sinning, 2012. "The Returns to Language Skills in the US Labor Market," Ruhr Economic Papers 0391, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    21. Jens Ruhose, 2013. "Bildungsleistungen von Migranten und deren Determinanten – Teil II: Primar-, Sekundar- und Tertiärbereich," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 66(10), pages 24-38, May.
    22. Zorlu, Aslan & Hartog, Joop, 2018. "The Impact of Language on Socioeconomic Integration of Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 11485, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Linguistic distance; language; immigrants; human capit; Linguistic distance; language; immigrants; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:rwirep:274. 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: (ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/rwiesde.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.