Language Proficiency and Subjective Well-being: Evidence from Immigrants in Australia

Jongkwan Lee, Anthony Niu, Hee Seung Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examines the relationship between language proficiency and subjective well-being among the first-generation immigrants in Australia. To address endogeneity-related concerns, we use the age at arrival and country of origin as an instrument for English proficiency. Our results show that greater proficiency in English significantly improves self-reported mental health and life satisfaction. These impacts are pronounced among subgroups of males, highly educated individuals, and older immigrants who have lived in Australia for over 30 years. Our mediation analysis suggests that physical health is one of the most important channels through which immigrants’ destination-language acquisition affects their subjective well-being.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the insightful comments made by the Co-editor, Stephanie Rossouw, and two anonymous referees. We also thank Andrew Clarke, Youjin Hahn, Asadul Islam, Robin Sickles, and conference and seminar participants at Asian Meeting of the Econometric Society 2018, International Panel Data Conference 2018, Yonsei University, Monash University, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology for their helpful comments. Hee-Seung Yang acknowledges the financial support from Yonsei University (Yonsei Signature Research Cluster Program (2021-22-0011)).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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