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Markets and linguistic diversity

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  • Ramon Caminal

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Abstract

The choice of language is a crucial decision for firms competing in cultural goods and media markets with a bilingual or multilingual consumer base. To the extent that multilingual consumers have preferences over the intrinsic characteristics (content) as well as over the language of the product, we can examine the efficiency of market outcomes regarding linguistic diversity. In this paper, I extend the spokes model and introduce language as an additional dimension of product differentiation. I show that: (i) if firms supply their product in a single language (the adoption model) then the degree of linguistic diversity is inefficiently low, and (ii) if some firms supply more than one linguistic version (the translation model) then in principle the market outcome may exhibit insufficient or excessive linguistic diversity. However, excessive diversity is associated to markets where the fraction of products in the minority language is disproportionately high with respect to the relative size of the linguistic minority.

Suggested Citation

  • Ramon Caminal, 2009. "Markets and linguistic diversity," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 781.09, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  • Handle: RePEc:aub:autbar:781.09
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Victor Ginsburgh & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Disenfranchisement In Linguistically Diverse Societies: The Case Of The European Union," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 946-965, June.
    2. Ginsburgh, Victor & Weber, Shlomo & Weyers, Sheila, 2007. "Economics of Literary Translation: A Simple Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 6432, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Ramon Caminal & Lluís M. Granero, 2012. "Multi‐product Firms and Product Variety," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(314), pages 303-328, April.
    4. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-345, May.
    5. N. Gregory Mankiw & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Free Entry and Social Inefficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 48-58, Spring.
    6. Melitz, Jacques, 2008. "Language and foreign trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 667-699, May.
    7. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 95-126, December.
    8. Ortega, Javier & Tangeraas, Thomas, 2003. "Unilingual versus Bilingual Education System: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4003, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Yongmin Chen & Michael H. Riordan, 2007. "Price and Variety in the Spokes Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(522), pages 897-921, July.
    10. Steven C. Salop, 1979. "Monopolistic Competition with Outside Goods," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 141-156, Spring.
    11. Peitz, Martin & Valletti, Tommaso M., 2008. "Content and advertising in the media: Pay-tv versus free-to-air," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 949-965, July.
    12. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ramon Caminal & Antonio Di Paolo, 2015. "Your language or mine?," Working Papers XREAP2015-05, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Nov 2015.
    2. Emilie Dargaud & Carlo Reggiani, 2015. "On The Price Effects Of Horizontal Mergers: A Theoretical Interpretation," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(3), pages 236-255, July.
    3. Yongmin Chen & Xinyu Hua, 2017. "Competition, Product Safety, and Product Liability," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(2), pages 237-267.
    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. Carlo Reggiani, "undated". "Optimal Differentiation and Spatial Competition: The Spokes Model with Product Delivery," Discussion Papers 09/13, Department of Economics, University of York.
    6. Carlo Reggiani, 2014. "Spatial Price Discrimination in the Spokes Model," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 628-649, September.
    7. Yongmin Chen & Marius Schwartz, 2015. "Churn vs. Diversion: An Illustrative Model," Working Papers gueconwpa~15-15-07, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
    8. Barañano Mentxaka, Ilaski & Kovarik, Jaromir & Uriarte Ayo, José Ramón, 2014. "Experimental Economics Meets Language Choice," IKERLANAK Ikerlanak;2014-82, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    9. Yongmin Chen & Marius Schwartz, 2016. "Churn Versus Diversion in Antitrust: An Illustrative Model," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 564-583, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Product variety; language; translation;

    JEL classification:

    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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