Census Language Questions in North America
Posted: 18 Feb 2000
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: Suggested Citation