This article investigates whether and to what extent poor proficiency in Italian impairs immigrants’ labor market integration in Italy. Using individual-level survey data, we apply instrumental variables methods to leverage presumably exogenous variations in Italian proficiency induced by immigrants’ demo-linguistic characteristics (e.g., age at arrival, linguistic distance between mother tongue and destination language, speaking Italian during childhood) and their interplays. We find that, given the low-skill nature of Italy's immigrant labor market, poor proficiency in communication skills (speaking and understanding Italian) produces larger penalties for immigrants’ labor force participation and employment than does the lack of formal skills (reading and writing). In contrast, no effect is found on immigrants’ job characteristics like the type of contract and full-time or part-time work. Whereas female immigrants were more penalized than males by poor linguistic proficiency in labor force participation, immigrants in linguistic groups that were more likely to work with (for) co-nationals were less affected by linguistic barriers than other immigrant groups. Yet, when investigating perceived integration outcomes, immigrants working with (for) co-nationals fared worse on feeling at home, feeling accepted, and overall life satisfaction in Italy. As our analysis shows, linguistic enclaves in workplaces, while not always representing a hurdle to immigrants’ labor market success, can generate trade-offs for other non-labor market integration outcomes. These findings highlight that the development of linguistic skills should be prioritized in migration policy agendas, taking into account heterogeneity in immigrants’ demographic and linguistic profiles.

Linguistic Barriers to Immigrants’ Labor Market Integration in Italy

Ghio D.;
2023-01-01

Abstract

This article investigates whether and to what extent poor proficiency in Italian impairs immigrants’ labor market integration in Italy. Using individual-level survey data, we apply instrumental variables methods to leverage presumably exogenous variations in Italian proficiency induced by immigrants’ demo-linguistic characteristics (e.g., age at arrival, linguistic distance between mother tongue and destination language, speaking Italian during childhood) and their interplays. We find that, given the low-skill nature of Italy's immigrant labor market, poor proficiency in communication skills (speaking and understanding Italian) produces larger penalties for immigrants’ labor force participation and employment than does the lack of formal skills (reading and writing). In contrast, no effect is found on immigrants’ job characteristics like the type of contract and full-time or part-time work. Whereas female immigrants were more penalized than males by poor linguistic proficiency in labor force participation, immigrants in linguistic groups that were more likely to work with (for) co-nationals were less affected by linguistic barriers than other immigrant groups. Yet, when investigating perceived integration outcomes, immigrants working with (for) co-nationals fared worse on feeling at home, feeling accepted, and overall life satisfaction in Italy. As our analysis shows, linguistic enclaves in workplaces, while not always representing a hurdle to immigrants’ labor market success, can generate trade-offs for other non-labor market integration outcomes. These findings highlight that the development of linguistic skills should be prioritized in migration policy agendas, taking into account heterogeneity in immigrants’ demographic and linguistic profiles.
2023
labor market integration
linguistic integration
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/604472
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