, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 391-409

A model of destination-language acquisition: Application to male immigrants in Canada

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Abstract

We develop a model using human capital theory and an immigrant adjustment process to generate hypotheses on the acquisition of destination-language skills among immigrants. The model is tested for adult male immigrants in the 1991 Census of Canada. Use of English or French is greater, the younger the age at migration, the longer the duration of residence, the higher the educational attainment, the farther the country of origin from Canada, and the linguistically closer the mother tongue to English or French, and among those who are not refugees, those from a former British, French, or American colony, and those who live in an area where fewer people speak the respondent’s mother tongue. The explanatory variables based on birthplace have behavioral interpretations and possess almost as much explanatory power as the birthplace dummy variables

The University of Western Australia. We appreciate the comments received from the participants at the Conference on Immigration With an International Comparative Perspective, Vancouver, January 1999; the Applications Workshop, Department of Economics, University of Chicago, May 1999; the annual meeting of the European Society for Population Economics, Turin, June 1999; and the RIIM Seminar, Simon Fraser University, July 2000. This paper was written in part while Paul Miller was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and while Barry Chiswick was John M. Olin Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago. Partial financial support for this project was provided through a grant from the Embassy of Canada, Washington, DC, from the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, and from the Center for Excellence in Vancouver, Research on Immigration and Integration in the Metropolis (RIIM), Simon Fraser University. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the sponsors.