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“Linguistic Distance” as a Determinant of Bilateral Trade

  • William K. Hutchinson

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

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    We introduce a measure of language difficulty called “linguistic distance” into a modified gravity model to determine whether a language being further away from English affects the level of trade. Our sample of 36 non–English-speaking countries includes Japan and South Korea, which we argue are special cases because of World War II, the Korean War, and subsequent close political and economic ties with the United States. Presence of a stock of immigrants in the home country has been shown to enhance trade with the country of origin. Controlling for immigrant network and information attributes, the special relationship with Japan and Korea, and the standard gravity model variables, we find that trade will be less between the United States and a country the further that country's language is from English. These results hold for aggregate exports and imports and for exports and imports of consumer and producer manufactures.

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    Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

    Volume (Year): 72 (2005)
    Issue (Month): 1 (July)
    Pages: 1–15

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    Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:1:y:2005:p:1-15
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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