The effects of language proficiency on immigrant employment and wages in Italy

Luca Pieroni, University of Perugia
Donatella Lanari, University of Perugia
Giorgio d'Agostino, University Rome III

In this paper, we examine how the Italian language proficiency of immigrants affects their labour market performance using two hitherto unexploited immigration surveys recently published by the Italian Institute of Statistics. With respect to immigrants with good Italian proficiency, our empirical findings suggest that language problems reduce the employment rate by about 30%, and point estimates are even larger when evaluating job satisfaction. Italian language proficiency also significantly affects the wages of immigrants. The point estimates suggest a wage gap of about 20% between immigrants with Italian proficiency and those without Italian proficiency, a magnitude that increases to 25% for male immigrants. Robustness checks confirmed our estimates.

Keywords: Cultural and linguistic demography, Demographic and social surveys, Causal analysis / Causal estimation, Economic analysis

See paper.

  Presented in Session 198. Disadvantage, Opportunity and Inequality