Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2015: Ökonomische Entwicklung - Theorie und Politik - Session: Migration G05-V1
Optimal integration policies should take the language skills of arriving migrants into account. However, little is known about the determinants of these skills, because most survey-based studies cannot distinguish between language learning before and after migration. We present a new dataset which reports the extent of language course and exam participation at the German Goethe institutes in 91 countries for the period 1966 2013. The dataset allows for a detailed examination of the determinants and consequences of adult language learning on the institute and country level. We estimate a fixed-effects model for the relationship between language learning and a set of macro-economic variables. Immigration flows are positively correlated with exam participation. Additionally, in EU countries, migrant stocks are positively correlated with course and exam participation. They may act as a proxy for otherwise unobserved short-term migration and cultural ties, both of which could influence language learning decisions. In non-EU countries, the link between migration and language learning is strengthened by two factors: By positive economic conditions, indicating that migrants who leave amidst economic turmoil may arrive with worse language skills. And by linguistic distance, indicating that migrants react to distance by increasing learning effort instead of refraining from learning the language.