English Plus: Exploring the Socioeconomic Benefits of Bilingualism in Southern California
Rumbaut, Rubén G., English Plus: Exploring the Socioeconomic Benefits of Bilingualism in Southern California. In Callahan, R.M. & Gándara, P.C., eds., The Bilingual Advantage: Language, Literacy, and the Labor Market. Multilingual Matters: Clevedon, U.K., 2014.
23 Pages Posted: 24 May 2014 Last revised: 17 Apr 2015
Date Written: 2014
This paper presents the results of a study carried out in Southern California with a multiethnic and multigenerational sample of young adults in their 20s and 30s. It merges two major surveys of adult children of immigrants, IIMMLA (Immigration and Intergenerational Mobility in Metropolitan Los Angeles) and the San Diego half of CILS (the Children of Immigrants Longitudinal Study). Both surveys utilized the same measures for key variables, and were carried out at about the same time in the six contiguous counties of Southern California with respondents were of similar ages, ethnicities, and generations. The analysis focuses on the independent effects of fluent bilingualism (measuring multiple dimensions of linguistic ability) on three socioeconomic outcomes: dropping out of high school, occupational status, and earnings. Southern California, as the nation’s largest regional site of immigrant incorporation over the past three decades – and home to the largest nationalities and most diverse types of immigrants (including professionals, refugees and undocumented laborers) to have settled in the U.S. over this period, as well as to their rapidly growing second generations – is a strategic site for such research. Of the region’s 21 million residents, half speak a language other than English at home, while half speak English only. Remarkably, controlling for major predictors, multivariate analyses show significant effects of bilingualism on all three socioeconomic outcomes: decreasing the odds of dropping out of high school, and increasing occupational status and earnings.
Keywords: Bilingualism, fluent bilingualism, English monolingualism, immigration, generation, education, occupational status, earnings
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