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Unilingual Versus Bilingual Education: A Political Economy Analysis

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  • Javier Ortega
  • Thomas P. Tangerås

Abstract

We consider an economy with two language groups, where only agents who share a language can produce together. Schooling enhances the productivity of students. Individuals attending a unilingual school end up speaking the language of instruction only, whereas bilingual schools render individuals bilingual at the same cost. The politically dominant group (not necessarily the majority) chooses the type(s) of schools accessible to each language group, and then individuals decide whether to attend school. We show that the dominant either choose laissez-faire or restrict access to schools in the language of the dominated. Instead, the dominated favour the use of their own language. Thus, although agents do not derive utility from speaking their mother tongue, language conflicts of the expected type endogenously arise. Democracy (majority rule) always leads to the implementation of a socially optimal education system, whereas restrictions to the use of the language of the dominated are implemented too often under minority rule. The model is consistent with evidence from Belgium, France, and Finland. (JEL: I2, J15) (c) 2008 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Javier Ortega & Thomas P. Tangerås, 2008. "Unilingual Versus Bilingual Education: A Political Economy Analysis," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1078-1108, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:6:y:2008:i:5:p:1078-1108
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Fidrmuc, 2012. "The Economics of Multilingualism in the EU," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on the Economics of European Union Law, chapter 15 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Roy Cerqueti & Raffaella Coppier & Gustavo Piga, 2012. "Corruption, growth and ethnic fractionalization: a theoretical model," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 106(2), pages 153-181, June.
    3. Hauk, Esther & Ortega, Javier, 2015. "Schooling, Nation Building, and Industrialization: A Gellnerian Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 9048, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Ramon Caminal, 2013. "The economic value of reciprocal bilingualism," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 933.13, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    5. Muravyev, Alexander & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2016. "Can state language policies distort students’ demand for education?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 383-399.
    6. Muravyev, Alexander & Talavera, Oleksandr, 2010. "Can State Language Policies Distort Students' Demand for Higher Education?," IZA Discussion Papers 5411, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Mukherjee, Diganta, 2014. "Assimilation, Criminality and Ethnic Conflict," IZA Discussion Papers 7924, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Dasgupta, Indraneel & Neogi, Ranajoy Guha, 2017. "Decolonization, Property Rights and Language Conflicts," IZA Discussion Papers 10998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Sirus Dehdari & Kai Gehring, 2017. "The Origins of Common Identity: Division, Homogenization Policies and Identity Formation in Alsace-Lorraine," CESifo Working Paper Series 6556, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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