Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=121374
 


 



E Pluribus Unum: Bilingualism and Language Loss in the Second Generation


Alejandro Portes


Princeton University; Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

Lingxin Hao


Johns Hopkins University

March 1998

Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 229

Abstract:     
We examine patterns of language adaptation in a sample of over 5,000 second generation students in South Florida and Southern California. Knowledge of English is near universal, and preference for that language is dominant among most immigrant nationalities. On the other hand, only a minority remain fluent in the parental languages, and there are wide variations among immigrant groups in the extent of their parental linguistic retention. These variations are important for theory and policy because they affect the speed of acculturation and the extent to which sizable pools of fluent bilinguals will be created by today's second generation. We employ multivariate and multi-level analyses to identify the principal factors accounting for variation in foreign language maintenance and bilingualism. While a number of variables emerge as significant predictors, they do not account for differences across immigrant nationalities which become even more sharply delineated. A clear disjuncture exists between children of Asian and Hispanic backgrounds whose parental language maintenance and bilingual fluency vary significantly. Reasons for this divergence are explored, and their policy implications are discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

JEL Classification: J11

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Date posted: September 1, 1998  

Suggested Citation

Portes, Alejandro and Hao, Lingxin, E Pluribus Unum: Bilingualism and Language Loss in the Second Generation (March 1998). Levy Economics Institute Working Paper No. 229. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=121374 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.121374

Contact Information

Alejandro Portes (Contact Author)
Princeton University ( email )
22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute
Blithewood
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
United States
Lingxin Hao
Johns Hopkins University ( email )
Baltimore, MD 21218
United States
(410) 516-4022 (Phone)
(410) 516-7590 (Fax)
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