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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 2 No. 1 (January 2010)

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Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation among US Immigrants

Article Citation

Bleakley, Hoyt, and Aimee Chin. 2010. "Age at Arrival, English Proficiency, and Social Assimilation among US Immigrants." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2(1): 165-92.

DOI: 10.1257/app.2.1.165

Abstract

Are the English proficiency and social outcomes of US immigrants the result of their cultural preferences or of more fundamental constraints? Using 2000 census microdata, we relate the English proficiency, marriage, fertility, and residential location variables of immigrants to their age at the time of arrival in the United States, and, in particular, whether that age fell within the "critical period" of language acquisition. We interpret the differences between younger and older arrivers as effects of English language skills and construct an instrumental variable for English language skills. Two-stage-least-squares estimates suggest English proficiency increases the likelihood of divorce and intermarriage. It decreases fertility and, for some, ethnic enclave residence. (JEL J11, J13, J61, R23, Z13)

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Authors

Bleakley, Hoyt (U Chicago)
Chin, Aimee (U Houston)

JEL Classifications

J11: Demographic Trends and Forecasts; General Migration
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J61: Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
R23: Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics: Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population; Neighborhood Characteristics
Z13: Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification

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