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Say it like Goethe: Language learning facilities abroad and the self-selection of immigrants

Philipp Jaschke and Sekou Keita

Journal of Development Economics, 2021, vol. 149, issue C

Abstract: Moving to rich countries usually results in substantial increases in income for migrants. However, high migration costs entail that only selected groups of potential migrants actually migrate. The availability of language learning facilities in a country could reduce costs of acquiring destination-specific skills and influence the self-selection of migrants. We combine survey data from immigrant cohorts between 2000 and 2014 with data on the country-year specific presence of Goethe Institutes – a German association promoting language acquisition and culture worldwide. We identify strong positive effects on language skills and relevant labor market-related characteristics of immigrants at arrival. The results are strongest for developing countries where opportunities to acquire foreign language skills are particularly scarce and returns to migration are the highest. Placebo regressions suggest that the effects are not driven by the demand for German language learning facilities.

Keywords: International migration; Public policy; Human capital - Skills; Immigrant workers; Language (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F22 J18 J24 J61 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2020.102597

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