Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 191–209 | Cite as

Russian Jewish Immigrants in the United States

The Adjustment of their English Language Proficiency and Earnings in the American Community Survey
  • Barry R. Chiswick
  • Nicholas LarsenEmail author


This paper is concerned with the determinants of the English language proficiencies and labor market earnings of adult Russian Jewish male and female immigrants to the United States, compared to other immigrants, using the pooled files of the American Community Survey (2005–09). Although at arrival the Russian Jewish immigrants report lower levels of English skills and earnings, they experience a more rapid improvement over time, and eventually attain parity or higher levels than other immigrants. Moreover, they appear to obtain greater earnings (compared to other immigrants) in the US labor market from their schooling, their time in the United States, and their English proficiency. These findings mirror those found in earlier post-war data (1980–2000 Census) and, to the extent comparable, late 19th and early 20th century studies of Russian Jewish immigrants. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Conference on Contemporary Russian-Speaking Jewish Diaspora, Harvard University, November 13–15, 2011.


Soviet Jews Immigrants Earnings Schooling English language Proficiency American Community Survey 

JEL Classification

F22 J61 J31 J24 



We are indebted to Marina Gindelsky for assistance with the American Community Survey data file and to the Contemporary Jewry editors and referees for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)BonnGermany
  3. 3.Eastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA

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