This paper studies the causal effect of English proficiency on residential location outcomes and the socioeconomic class of immigrants in England and Wales, exploiting a natural experiment. Based on the phenomenon that young children learn a new language more easily than older children, we construct an instrument for English proficiency using age at arrival in the United Kingdom. Taking advantage of a unique dataset, we measure the extent of residential segregation along different dimensions, and find that poor English skills lead immigrants to live in areas with a high concentration of people who speak their same native language, but not necessarily in areas with a high concentration of people of their same ethnicity or country of birth. This finding could suggest that, for immigrants with poor English proficiency, what matters for their residential location decision is language spoken by residents, as opposed to ethnicity or country of birth. We also find that language skills have an impact on the occupation-based socioeconomic class of immigrants: Poor English skills reduce the likelihood of being in the occupation-based class 'higher managerial and professional' and increase that of being in the class 'self-employment'.
|Publisher||IZA Discussion Paper|
|Number of pages||35|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2018|
Bibliographical noteWe gratefully acknowledge the permission of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to use the Longitudinal Study, and the help provided by staff of the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information and User Support, which is supported by the ESRC Census of Population Programme (Award Ref: ES/K000365/1). Financial support from the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics and Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland is also gratefully acknowledged. This work contains statistical data from the ONS which is Crown Copyright and all statistical results remain Crown Copyright. The use of the ONS Statistics statistical data in this work does not imply the endorsement of the ONS in relation to the interpretation or analysis of the statistical data. The authors alone are responsible for the interpretation of the data. This work uses research datasets which may not exactly reproduce National Statistics aggregates.
- Language Skills
- Residential Segregation
- Employment Status