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Learning foreign languages: Theoretical and empirical implications of the Selten and Pool model

  • Ginsburgh, Victor
  • Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio
  • Weber, Shlomo

In this paper we adopt the Selten-Pool [Selten, R., Pool, J., 1991. The distribution of foreign language skills as a game equilibrium. In: Selten, R. (Ed.), Game Equilibrium Models, vol. 4. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 64-84] framework of language acquisition based on "communicative benefits" derived from the ability to communicate with other speakers of an acquired language, and "learning costs" incurred by acquiring a foreign language. We show that, under some mild conditions, there exists a unique interior linguistic equilibrium. We then derive demand functions for foreign languages, that we estimate for English, French, German and Spanish in 13 European countries and demonstrate that the properties of these functions are consistent with our theoretical results.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 64 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3-4 ()
Pages: 337-347

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:64:y:2007:i:3-4:p:337-347
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  1. GINSBURGH, Victor & ORTUNO-ORTIN, Ignatio & WEBER, Shlomo, . "Disenfranchisement in linguistically diverse societies: the case of the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1773, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  2. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  3. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-45, May.
  4. GINSBURGH, Victor & WEBER, Shlomo, . "Language disenfranchisement in the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1831, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. 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 101-30, April.
  6. Lang, Kevin, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-82, May.
  7. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
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