The economic value of reciprocal bilingualism
Some bilingual societies exhibit a distribution of language skills that can- not be explained by economic theories that portray languages as pure commu- nication devices. Such distribution of skills are typically the result of public policies that promote bilingualism among members of both speech commu- nities (reciprocal bilingualism). In this paper I argue that these policies are likely to increase social welfare by diminishing economic and social segmenta- tion between the two communities. However, these gains tend to be unequally distributed over the two communities. As a result, in a large range of circum- stances these policies might not draw su¢ cient support. The model is built upon the communicative value of languages, but also emphasizes the role of linguistic preferences in the behavior of bilingual individuals..
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