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Determinants of destination-language acquisition among the foreign-origin population in Estonia

Leen Rahnu, Estonian Interuniversity Population Research Centre
Allan Puur, Estonian Interuniversity Population Research Centre

The study examines the different patterns of Estonian language acquisition of foreign-origin population in Estonia. Compared to most European countries the immigration to Estonia started earlier and left the country with the population of foreign-origin that accounted for more than a third of the total at the end of mass immigration. The analysis of micro-data from last national censuses at 1989 and 2000 reveals that the knowledge of the destination-language was very low (around 15%) at the turn of the 1990s. The proficiency of Estonian increased noticeably (close to 50% in 2000), but is still very low. The analysis of the effect of different factors - birth cohort, age groups, first/second generation, gender, educational attainment, ethno-linguistic environment, and ethnic affiliation suggest that previous social system continues to influence the behaviour patterns of foreign-origin population. This effect will be further tested using more recent data from Estonian Family and Fertility Survey.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Poster Session 3: migration, environment and spatial demography