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
Pages (from-to)1847-1866
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Immigrant
  • Instrumental variable
  • Language proficiency
  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Social capital
  • Subjective well-being


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