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Language Learning and Migration: A New Dataset on Language Course and Exam Participation

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  • Weingarten, Severin
  • Uebelmesser, Silke

Abstract

Optimal integration policies should take the language skills of arriving migrants into account. However, little is known about the determinants of these skills, because most survey-based studies cannot distinguish between language learning before and after migration. We present a new dataset which reports the extent of language course and exam participation at the German Goethe institutes in 91 countries for the period 1966 2013. The dataset allows for a detailed examination of the determinants and consequences of adult language learning on the institute and country level. We estimate a fixed-effects model for the relationship between language learning and a set of macro-economic variables. Immigration flows are positively correlated with exam participation. Additionally, in EU countries, migrant stocks are positively correlated with course and exam participation. They may act as a proxy for otherwise unobserved short-term migration and cultural ties, both of which could influence language learning decisions. In non-EU countries, the link between migration and language learning is strengthened by two factors: By positive economic conditions, indicating that migrants who leave amidst economic turmoil may arrive with worse language skills. And by linguistic distance, indicating that migrants react to distance by increasing learning effort instead of refraining from learning the language.

Suggested Citation

  • Weingarten, Severin & Uebelmesser, Silke, 2015. "Language Learning and Migration: A New Dataset on Language Course and Exam Participation," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112958, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc15:112958
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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