Census Language Questions in North America

Posted: 18 Feb 2000

See all articles by Barry R. Chiswick

Barry R. Chiswick

University of Illinois at Chicago; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Paul W. Miller

Curtin University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Curtin University - Centre for Research in Applied Economics

Abstract

This paper analyzes the questions on dominant languages and minority languages included in the 1990 U.S. Census and the 1991 Canadian Census. These questions have served as the basis of much research on the determinants and socioeconomic consequences of language usage and proficiency among immigrants and linguistic minorities. The questions and coding procedures for both countries are presented and discussed. The socioeconomic correlates of the language variables are discussed for both countries, indicating the strengths and weaknesses of the various language questions for policy analysis. An alternative set of language questions that would enhance the quality of social science research on the determinants and consequences of language proficiency is presented and evaluated.

JEL Classification: J61

Suggested Citation

Chiswick, Barry R. and Miller, Paul W., Census Language Questions in North America. Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, Vol. 25, pp. 73-95, 1998. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=206028

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)
312-996-3344 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Paul W. Miller

Curtin University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box U1987
Perth WA 6845
Australia

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Curtin University - Centre for Research in Applied Economics ( email )

GPO Box U1987
Perth, Western Australia 6845
Australia

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