IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/eecrev/v52y2008i4p667-699.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Language and foreign trade

Author

Listed:
  • Melitz, Jacques

Abstract

While language plays an important role in gravity models, there has been little attention to the channels through which a common language promotes bilateral trade. This work proposes separate series for a common language depending upon whether ease of communication facilitates trade through translation or the ability to communicate directly. The series related to direct communication is far more important in explaining bilateral trade, but the other series, based on translation, makes a distinct contribution as well. Either measure of a common language outperforms the measure in popular use, which is implicitly related to translation, and a combination of the two does far better. In addition, the paper examines the effect of two country-specific linguistic influences on trade: Literacy and linguistic diversity at home. Both of these influences promote foreign relative to domestic trade. Finally, the article studies the separate roles of English and network externalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Melitz, Jacques, 2008. "Language and foreign trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 667-699, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:4:p:667-699
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014-2921(07)00062-1
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Volker Nitsch, 2000. "National borders and international trade: evidence from the European Union," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1091-1105, November.
    2. Frankel, Jeffrey A & Rose, Andrew K, 1998. "The Endogeneity of the Optimum Currency Area Criteria," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 1009-1025, July.
    3. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Enrico Spolaore, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-1056.
    5. William K. Hutchinson, 2002. "Does Ease of Communication Increase Trade? Commonality of Language and Bilateral Trade," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0217, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    6. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
    7. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-481, August.
    8. John F. Helliwell & Geneviève Verdier, 2001. "Measuring internal trade distances: a new method applied to estimate provincial border effects in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 34(4), pages 1024-1041, November.
    9. William Easterly & Ross Levine, 1997. "Africa's Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1203-1250.
    10. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    11. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-288, April.
    12. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1997. "Regional Trading Blocs in the World Economic System," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 72, July.
    13. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-345, May.
    14. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
    15. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    16. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Ernesto Stein & Shang-Jin Wei, 1998. "Continental Trading Blocs: Are They Natural or Supernatural?," NBER Chapters, in: The Regionalization of the World Economy, pages 91-120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 95-126, December.
    18. Wagner, Don & Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2002. "Immigration and the Trade of Provinces," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 507-525, December.
    19. Peter Egger & Douglas Nelson, 2011. "How Bad Is Antidumping? Evidence from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1374-1390, November.
    20. Boisso, Dale & Ferrantino, Michael, 1997. "Economic Distance, Cultural Distance, and Openness in International Trade : Empirical Puzzles," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 12, pages 456-484.
    21. Melitz, Jacques, 2007. "The impact of English dominance on literature and welfare," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 193-215, October.
    22. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    23. Dowd, Kevin & Greenaway, David, 1993. "Currency Competition, Network Externalities and Switching Costs: Towards an Alternative View of Optimum Currency Areas," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(420), pages 1180-1189, September.
    24. Gould, David M, 1994. "Immigrant Links to the Home Country: Empirical Implications for U.S. Bilateral Trade Flows," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 302-316, May.
    25. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth Rogoff, 2001. "The Six Major Puzzles in International Macroeconomics: Is There a Common Cause?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 339-412, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Keith Head & John Ries, 1998. "Immigration and Trade Creation: Econometric Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 47-62, February.
    27. Harrigan, James, 1994. "Scale Economies and the Volume of Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 321-328, May.
    28. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-130, April.
    29. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
    30. William K. Hutchinson, 2002. "Does Ease of Communication Increase Trade? Commonality of Language and Bilateral Trade," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 544-556, November.
    31. Don Wagner & Keith Head & John Ries, 2002. "Immigration and the Trade of Provinces," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 507-525, November.
    32. Havrylyshyn, Oleh & Pritchett, Lant, 1991. "European trade patterns after the transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 748, The World Bank.
    33. Jeffrey Frankel & Andrew Rose, 2002. "An Estimate of the Effect of Common Currencies on Trade and Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 437-466.
    34. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2006. "Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," DEGIT Conference Papers c011_022, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    35. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    36. Dunlevy, James A. & Hutchinson, William K., 1999. "The Impact of Immigration on American Import Trade in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 1043-1062, December.
    37. Alesina, Alberto & Wacziarg, Romain, 1998. "Openness, country size and government," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 305-321, September.
    38. Hutchinson, William K, 2002. "Does Ease of Communication Increase Trade? Commonality of Language and Bilateral Trade," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 544-556, December.
    39. Paolo Mauro, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712.
    40. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2001. "The growth of world trade: tariffs, transport costs, and income similarity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-27, February.
    41. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
    42. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 2002. "Ethnic Chinese Networks In International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 116-130, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Melitz, Jacques & Toubal, Farid, 2014. "Native language, spoken language, translation and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 351-363.
    2. William K. Hutchinson, 2005. "“Linguistic Distance” as a Determinant of Bilateral Trade," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, July.
    3. repec:edn:sirdps:417 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Roger White, 2010. "Migration and International Trade," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13670, June.
    5. Nicolas Sauter, 2012. "Talking trade: language barriers in intra-Canadian commerce," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 301-323, February.
    6. William K. Hutchinson, 2001. ""Linguistic Distance" as a Determinant of Bilateral Trade," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0130, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics, revised Oct 2003.
    7. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
    8. Noel Gaston & Douglas R. Nelson, 2013. "Bridging Trade Theory And Labour Econometrics: The Effects Of International Migration," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(1), pages 98-139, February.
    9. Anna D’Ambrosio & Sandro Montresor, 2022. "The pro-export effect of subnational migration networks: new evidence from Spanish provinces," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 158(1), pages 53-107, February.
    10. Michele Fratianni & Francesco Marchionne, 2011. "The Limits to Integration," Chapters, in: Miroslav N. Jovanović (ed.), International Handbook on the Economics of Integration, Volume I, chapter 9, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Sui, Sui & Morgan, Horatio M. & Baum, Matthias, 2015. "Internationalization of immigrant-owned SMEs: The role of language," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 804-814.
    12. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:6:y:2008:i:48:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Roger White & Bedassa Tadesse, 2011. "International Migration and Economic Integration," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14318, June.
    14. William K. Hutchinson, 2002. "Does Ease of Communication Increase Trade? Commonality of Language and Bilateral Trade," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0217, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    15. Roger White & Bedassa Tadesse, 2008. "Cultural Distance and the US Immigrant–Trade Link," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(8), pages 1078-1096, August.
    16. Giovanni Peri & Francisco Requena-Silvente, 2010. "The trade creation effect of immigrants: evidence from the remarkable case of Spain," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1433-1459, November.
    17. White, Roger & Tadesse, Bedassa, 2008. "Immigrants, cultural distance and U.S. state-level exports of cultural products," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 331-348, December.
    18. Giovanni Peri & Francisco Requena, 2009. "The Trade Creation Effect of Immigrants: Testing the Theory on the Remarkable Case of Spain," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0915, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    19. Mayer, Thierry & Pierre-Phillippe Combes & Miren Lafourcade, 2003. "Can Business and Social Networks Explain the Border Effect Puzzle?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 150, Royal Economic Society.
    20. Michele Fratianni & Francesco Marchionne, 2008. "Heterogeneity In Trade Costs," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 6(48), pages 1-14.
    21. Felbermayr, Gabriel J. & Toubal, Farid, 2012. "Revisiting the Trade-Migration Nexus: Evidence from New OECD Data," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 928-937.
    22. Ben Dolman, 2007. "Patterns of Migration, Trade and Foreign Direct Investment across OECD Countries," DEGIT Conference Papers c012_030, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:4:p:667-699. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.