Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias Among Immigrant Children

46 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2008

See all articles by Richard Akresh

Richard Akresh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Ilana Redstone Akresh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract

We use Woodcock Johnson III child assessment data in the New Immigrant Survey to examine language assimilation and test score bias among children of Hispanic immigrants. Our identification strategy exploits the test language randomization (Spanish or English) to quantitatively measure the degree and speed of language assimilation, in addition to the potential costs associated with taking a test in one's non-dominant language. We find that U.S. born children of Hispanic immigrants are not bilingual as predicted by most language assimilation models but rather are English dominant. English language assimilation occurs at a rapid pace for foreign born children as well; children who arrive in the U.S. at an early age or who have spent more than four years in the U.S. do not benefit from taking the tests in Spanish. Results are robust to a fixed effects specification that controls for household level characteristics constant across siblings.

Keywords: immigration, language assimilation, New Immigrant Survey, Woodcock Johnson achievement tests

JEL Classification: J24, I20, J18, O15, F22

Suggested Citation

Akresh, Richard and Akresh, Ilana Redstone, Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias Among Immigrant Children. IZA Discussion Paper No. 3532, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1145911 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Richard Akresh (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Ilana Redstone Akresh

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

702 South Wright Street
Urbana, IL 61801
United States

HOME PAGE: http://netfiles.uiuc.edu/redstone/www

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