Immigrants Learn English: Immigrant's Language Acquisition Rates by Country of Origin and Demographics since 1900

5 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2019

See all articles by Michelangelo Landgrave

Michelangelo Landgrave

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 17, 2019

Abstract

The ability to speak English is an important part of immigrant assimilation in the United States. In contemporary politics there is a concern that although earlier waves of immigrants learned English, newer cohorts are doing so at lower rates. This brief uses U.S. Census data to answer this concern and show that English language acquisition rates have increased over the past 100 years. About 91 percent of immigrants in the United States between 1980 and 2010 reportedly spoke English compared with 86 percent who lived here from 1900 to 1930. While immigrants with different backgrounds are more or less likely to learn English than others, our analysis unambiguously shows that today’s immigrants are more likely to learn English than immigrants in the beginning of the last century.

Keywords: immigration, assimilation, adaptability, English-speaking, English language

JEL Classification: F22, F2, F5, F52

Suggested Citation

Landgrave, Michelangelo, Immigrants Learn English: Immigrant's Language Acquisition Rates by Country of Origin and Demographics since 1900 (September 17, 2019). Research and Policy Brief No. 14, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3499150 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3499150

Michelangelo Landgrave (Contact Author)

University of California, Riverside (UCR) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Riverside, CA 92521
United States

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