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Linguistic Distance, Languages of Work and Wages of Immigrants in Montreal

Ibrahim Bousmah (), Gilles Grenier () and David Gray
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Ibrahim Bousmah: University of Ottawa

Journal of Labor Research, 2021, vol. 42, issue 1, No 1, 28 pages

Abstract: Abstract We use the Levenshtein linguistic distance measure to explore the question of whether the distance between an immigrant’s mother tongue and a Canadian official language (English or French) has an impact on his/her economic integration into the labor market. Using microdata from the master files of the 2001 and 2006 Canadian censuses and from the 2011 National Household Survey, we investigate the relationship between linguistic distance and the intensity of use of English and French at work in the Montreal metropolitan area. That region is characterized by the presence of sizeable French- and English-speaking communities, as well as by a large number of immigrants from a wide variety of linguistic backgrounds. Those elements of linguistic diversity interact in the environment of English being the lingua franca. We find that linguistic distances between immigrants’ mother tongues and English and French have an important impact on the relative intensities of use of the two Canadian official languages at work. We further investigate the role of the languages used at work on the earnings of immigrants by estimating earnings functions. We find that the use of both French and English is remunerated positively in the labor market, but that using English at work has a larger impact on earnings.

Keywords: C21; C25; F66; J01; J15; J31; Linguistic distance; Language of work; Immigrants; Montreal; Canada; Earnings (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s12122-020-09316-1

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