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Ethnic concentration and language fluency of immigrants: Evidence from the guest-worker placement in Germany

Alexander Danzer () and Firat Yaman

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2016, vol. 131, issue PA, 151-165

Abstract: This paper analyses the impact of regional ethnic concentration on the language proficiency and language use of immigrants. It solves the endogeneity of immigrants’ location choices by exploiting a peculiar episode of the German immigration history: the exogenous placement of guest-workers after WWII, one of the largest guest-worker programs on record. The econometric approach accounts for several sources of measurement error and provides a falsification exercise that hypothetically relocates the most language proficient immigrants into ethnic enclaves to test the extent of cross-regional sorting necessary to render the results purely spurious. The results show a robust negative effect of ethnic concentration on immigrants’ language ability which is driven by differences in contact rates with natives and not by differences in the willingness to integrate. The paper discusses these findings against the background of a language production function and in the light of feasible policy options to foster the language acquisition of immigrants.

Keywords: Guest-worker program; Enclave; Ethnic concentration; Human capital; Immigrant; Migrant sorting; Integration; Misclassification error; Hypothetical relocation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F22 J61 R23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.08.012

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:131:y:2016:i:pa:p:151-165