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Foreign Language Learning: An Econometric Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Victor Ginsburgh
  • Jacques Melitz
  • Farid Toubal

Abstract

The paper is devoted to an econometric analysis of learning foreign languages in all parts of the world. Our sample covers 193 countries and 13 important languages. Four factors significantly explain learning, two of which affect the broad decision to learn, while two concern as well the choice of the particular language to learn. Literacy generally promotes learning while the world population of speakers of the native language generally discourages it. Trade with speakers of a specific language prompts learning of that specific language while the linguistic distance between the home and the foreign language discourages learning of the specific language. Trade is highly significant and may well deserve more emphasis than the other three key variables (literacy rate, linguistic distance, and world population of native speakers) because its direction can change faster and by a larger order of magnitude. Controlling for individual acquired languages, including English, is of no particular importance.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Ginsburgh & Jacques Melitz & Farid Toubal, 2014. "Foreign Language Learning: An Econometric Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4923, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4923
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Melitz, Jacques & Toubal, Farid, 2014. "Native language, spoken language, translation and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 351-363.
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    6. Victor Ginsburgh & Jacques Melitz & Farid Toubal, 2014. "Foreign Language Learning: An Econometric Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 4923, CESifo.
    7. Head, Keith & Mayer, Thierry & Ries, John, 2010. "The erosion of colonial trade linkages after independence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 1-14, May.
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    10. Gaulier, Guillaume & Zignago, Soledad, 2004. "Notes on BACI (analytical database of international trade). 1989-2002 version," MPRA Paper 32401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    14. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "How Many Languages Do We Need? The Economics of Linguistic Diversity," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9481.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tamara Gurevitch & Peter R. Herman & Farid Toubal & Yoto Yotov, 2020. "One Nation, One Language? Domestic Language Diversity, Trade and Welfare," Working Papers 2020-15, CEPII research center.
    2. Melitz, Jacques, 2014. "English as a global language," CEPR Discussion Papers 10102, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Ginsburgh, Victor & Weber, Shlomo, 2015. "Linguistic Distances and their Use in Economics," CEPR Discussion Papers 10640, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Victor Ginsburgh & Jacques Melitz & Farid Toubal, 2014. "Foreign Language Learning : An Econometric Analysis," Working Papers 2014-21, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    5. Uriarte Ayo, José Ramón, 2015. "A Game-Theoreteic Analysis of Minority Language Use in Multilingual Societies," IKERLANAK info:eu-repo/grantAgreeme, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    language learning; language and trade; English as a global language;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F20 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - General
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General

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