IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Native language, spoken language, translation and trade

  • Jacques Melitz
  • Farid Toubal

We construct new series for common native language and common spoken language for 195 countries, which we use together with series for common official language and linguistic proximity in order to draw inferences about (1) the aggregate impact of all linguistic factors on bilateral trade, (2) whether the linguistic influences come from ethnicity and trust or ease of communication, and (3) in so far they come from ease of communication, to what extent translation and interpreters play a role. The results show that the impact of linguistic factors, all together, is at least twice as great as the usual dummy variable for common language, resting on official language, would say. In addition, ease of communication is far more important than ethnicity and trust. Further, so far as ease of communication is at work, translation and interpreters are extremely important. Finally, ethnicity and trust come into play largely because of immigrants and their influence is otherwise difficult to detect.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CEPII research center in its series Working Papers with number 2012-17.

in new window

Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2012-17
Contact details of provider: Postal: 113, rue de Grenelle, 75700 Paris SP07
Phone: 33 01 53 68 55 00
Fax: 33 01 53 68 55 01
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:2:p:437-466 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  3. Ku, Hyejin & Zussman, Asaf, 2010. "Lingua franca: The role of English in international trade," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 250-260, August.
  4. Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Currency unions and trade: the effect is large," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(33), pages 449-461, October.
  5. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 13054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:441-487 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 1999. "Ethnic Chinese Networks in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
  9. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  10. J. M. C. Santos Silva & Silvana Tenreyro, 2006. "The Log of Gravity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(4), pages 641-658, November.
  11. Dunlevy, James A. & Hutchinson, William K., 1999. "The Impact of Immigration on American Import Trade in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 1043-1062, December.
  12. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2007. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members' international trade?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 72-95, March.
  13. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri, 2003. "Language proficiency and labour market performance of immigrants in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 695-717, 07.
  14. Victor A. Ginsburgh & Juan Prieto-Rodriguez, 2011. "Returns to Foreign Languages of Native Workers in the EU," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 64(3), pages 599-618, April.
  15. Wagner, Don & Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2002. "Immigration and the Trade of Provinces," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 49(5), pages 507-25, December.
  16. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer & John Ries, 2011. "The erosion of colonial trade linkages after independence," Post-Print hal-01024396, HAL.
  17. Peter Egger & Mario Larch & Kevin E. Staub & Rainer Winkelmann, 2011. "The Trade Effects of Endogenous Preferential Trade Agreements," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 113-43, August.
  18. Gaulier, Guillaume & Zignago, Soledad, 2004. "Notes on BACI (analytical database of international trade). 1989-2002 version," MPRA Paper 32401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Eaton, Jonathan & Kortum, Samuel S & Kramarz, Francis, 2009. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 7111, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Alicia Adsera & Mariola Pytlikova, 2012. "The role of language in shaping international migration," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1206, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  21. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1997. "Regional Trading Blocs in the World Economic System," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 72.
  22. Foroutan, Faezeh & Pritchett, Lant, 1993. "Intra-sub-Saharan African Trade: Is It Too Little?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 2(1), pages 74-105, May.
  23. Falck, Oliver & Heblich, Stephan & Lameli, Alfred & Südekum, Jens, 2012. "Dialects, cultural identity, and economic exchange," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 225-239.
  24. Joshua J. Lewer & Hendrik Van den Berg, 2007. "Estimating the Institutional and Network Effects of Religious Cultures on International Trade," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 255-277, 05.
  25. Torsten Persson, 2001. "Currency unions and trade: how large is the treatment effect?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(33), pages 433-462, October.
  26. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10147 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Desmet, Klaus & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2009. "The Political Economy of Ethnolinguistic Cleavages," CEPR Discussion Papers 7478, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  28. Peter Egger & Andrea Lassmann, 2011. "The Language Effect in International Trade: A Meta-Analysis," CESifo Working Paper Series 3682, CESifo Group Munich.
  29. Andrew K. Rose, 2000. "One money, one market: the effect of common currencies on trade," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 15(30), pages 7-46, 04.
  30. Philippe Martin & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2008. "Make Trade not War?," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00293018, HAL.
  31. Jacques Melitz, 2003. "Language and Foreign Trade," Working Papers 2003-26, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  32. Felbermayr, Gabriel J. & Toubal, Farid, 2010. "Cultural proximity and trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 279-293, February.
  33. Parsons, Christopher R. & Skeldon, Ronald & Walmsley, Terrie L. & Winters, L. Alan, 2007. "Quantifying international migration : a database of bilateral migrant stocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4165, The World Bank.
  34. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  35. Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2009. "Linguistic Diversity and Redistribution," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(6), pages 1291-1318, December.
  36. Boisso, Dale & Ferrantino, Michael, 1997. "Economic Distance, Cultural Distance, and Openness in International Trade : Empirical Puzzles," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 12, pages 456-484.
  37. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 1999. "Immigrant Earnings: Language Skills, Linguistic Concentrations and the Business Cycle," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 152, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  38. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. repec:oup:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:3:p:1095-1131 is not listed on IDEAS
  40. William K. Hutchinson, 2005. "“Linguistic Distance” as a Determinant of Bilateral Trade," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1–15, July.
  41. Barry Chiswick & Paul Miller, 2007. "Computer usage, destination language proficiency and the earnings of natives and immigrants," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 129-157, June.
  42. Fearon, James D, 2003. " Ethnic and Cultural Diversity by Country," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 195-222, June.
  43. Gould, David M, 1994. "Immigrant Links to the Home Country: Empirical Implications for U.S. Bilateral Trade Flows," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 302-16, May.
  44. Giuliano, Paola & Spilimbergo, Antonio & Tonon, Giovanni, 2006. "Genetic, Cultural and Geographical Distances," CEPR Discussion Papers 5807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  45. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
  46. Havrylyshyn, Oleh & Pritchett, Lant, 1991. "European trade patterns after the transition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 748, The World Bank.
  47. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-30, April.
  48. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "How many languages do we need? The economics of Linguistic Diversity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/152424, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  49. Thierry Mayer & Gianmarco Ottaviano, 2007. "The happy few: the internationalisation of European firms New facts based on firm-level evidence," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/10147, Sciences Po.
  50. Matthias Helble, 2007. "Is God Good for Trade?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 385-413, 08.
  51. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00641280 is not listed on IDEAS
  52. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2004. "Linguistic Distance: A Quantitative Measure of the Distance Between English and Other Languages," IZA Discussion Papers 1246, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  53. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-45, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2012-17. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.