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Immigrants’ Literacy Skills are a “Human Capital Concern”

April 14, 2004
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Much of the growth in the U.S. labor force is due to immigration. According to a new report from ETS and Northeastern University, that new labor force is ill prepared for success in the American economy.

The researchers find that immigrants coming to the United States had lower average literacy proficiency than immigrants who have arrived in other higher-income countries—such as Ireland, Denmark and Norway--even when the level of education is considered.

When immigrants have higher literacy proficiencies, they’re likely to do better in the labor market and be less reliant on government support.

The authors say there is a “national need” to address the problem, citing the fact that 40 percent of ages 18- to 64-year-old immigrants who arrived in the 1990s lacked a high school diploma or the equivalent.

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