Essays on Intergenerational Cultural Assimilation

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2019-05

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Abstract

This dissertation is comprised of two studies on intergenerational cultural assimilation. The first chapter looks at the effect of preferences on assimilation in terms of residential outcomes. Parent's desire to transmit their culture to their children can lead them to reside with neighbors of the same ethnicity. Ethnic segregation may be an outcome of such sorting. I develop a theoretical model of intergenerational cultural transmission that incorporates moving and neighbor choices. I prove how these choices can generate a dynamic equilibrium in which ethnic segregation will persist in the long run at the disaggregate neighborhood level with diversity in the aggregate. I examine whether model predictions regarding these segregation inducing parental moves are supported by data. I use U.S Census Microdata (1990, 2000) and U.K Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities (1993-1994). The empirical strategy exploits variation in moves by the presence and age of children, ethnicity shares and cultural motivations. I find that a one standard deviation increase in share of own ethnicity in a location reduces the probability of leaving that location by .8 percentage points (7.6%) for parents compared to non-parents. Parents are also 1.76 percentage points (3.6%) more likely to go from a location with a lower share of own ethnicity to one with a higher share of own ethnicity. These effects are stronger for parents with young children. The findings suggest that young children may be disproportionately more exposed to ethnic enclaves. Cultural transmission appears to be an important causal determinant of the differential sorting patterns and a possible mechanism to help explain persistence in enclaves. The second chapter examines the effect of linguistic constraints on outcomes. In particular, I study the causal impact of English proficiency among immigrant parents on language skills, educational outcomes and attitudes of second-generation immigrants in the U.K. To address the endogeneity in parent's English proficiency, I take advantage of the phenomenon that younger children learn languages more easily than older children. I employ a difference in difference strategy based on the instrument proposed by Bleakely and Chin (2004)- age at arrival of immigrant parents who came as children from English and non-English speaking countries to the U.K. I find that parent's English proficiency has a significant and positive impact on the English proficiency of their U.K born children. I also find a positive impact on their years of schooling, probability of pursuing higher education and job satisfaction. The impact of parental English proficiency on social attitudes related to risk taking, trustworthiness and political interest is negative. Additionally, individuals to English proficient parents are less likely to perceive religion to be of significance. They are also less likely to consider retention of own identity as crucial. I find parent's educational qualification, labor force status and residential location to be important channels in explaining these language effects.

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Keywords

Cultural Transmission, Migration, Ethnic Enclaves, Segregation

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