The Effect of Linguistic Proximity on the Occupational Assimilation of Immigrants

Alicia Adsera, Princeton University
Ana Ferrer, University of Waterloo

This paper contributes to the analysis of the integration of immigrants in the Canadian labour market by focusing in two relatively new dimensions. We combine the large samples of the restricted version of the Canadian Census (1991-2006) with both a novel measure of linguistic proximity of the immigrant’s mother tongue to that of the destination country and with information of the occupational skills embodied in the jobs immigrants hold. This allows us to assess the role that language plays in the labour market performance of immigrants and to better study their career progression relative to the native born. Our preliminary results show that linguistic proximity (1) influences the path of participation in high skill occupations; (2) shapes the evolution of job-skill content of immigrant jobs over time and (3) affects patterns of wage assimilation of immigrants.

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 Presented in Session P6. Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment