Occupational Choice of High Skilled Immigrants in the United States

41 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2007

See all articles by Barry R. Chiswick

Barry R. Chiswick

University of Illinois at Chicago; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Sarinda Taengnoi

Western New England University

Date Written: August 2007


This paper explores the impact of English language proficiency and country of origin on the occupational choice of high-skilled immigrants in the U.S. using the 2000 Census. The findings reveal that high-skilled immigrants with limited proficiency in English, or whose mother tongue is linguistically distant from English, are more likely to be in occupations in which English communication skills are not very important, such as computer and engineering occupations. Moreover, the degree of exposure to English prior to immigration is found to have little influence on selecting occupations in the U.S. The paper also shows that immigrants from some origins with little exposure to English and whose native language is far from English tend to be in some "speaking-intensive" occupations, in particular social services occupations. These occupations may not require workers to be fluent in English if they mostly provide services to immigrants from their same linguistic background.

Keywords: immigrants, English proficiency, occupation, high-skilled workers

JEL Classification: J15, J24, J61

Suggested Citation

Chiswick, Barry R. and Taengnoi, Sarinda, Occupational Choice of High Skilled Immigrants in the United States (August 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2969. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1010630

Barry R. Chiswick (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

601 S. Morgan Street, Room 2103UH
Chicago, IL 60607-7121
United States
312-996-2683 (Phone)
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
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Sarinda Taengnoi

Western New England University ( email )

Springfield, MA 01119
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www1.wnec.edu/faculty/index.cfm?selection=doc.3040&uid=353

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