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Disenfranchisement in linguistically diverse societies: the case of the European Union

  • GINSBURGH, Victor
  • ORTUNO-ORTIN, Ignatio
  • WEBER, Shlomo

We consider a linguistically diversified society that has to select a set of languages to be used for official purposes. We examine the notion of language disenfranchisement that is created when one or more languages fail to be included in the list of the official ones, implying that some individuals are denied full access to the documents and to the political process in their native tongues. To derive one of our disenfranchisement indices, we use the Dyen percentage cognate matrix of linguistic distances between languages. We then apply survey and population data on language proficiency in the European Union, calculate disenfranchisement indices and determine optimal sets of official languages that depend on two parameters, society's sensitivity against disenfranchisement and comprehensiveness of the language regime adopted. We also discuss the language situation in the European Union after its enlargement in May 2004.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/1542476054430799
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Paper provided by Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) in its series CORE Discussion Papers RP with number -1773.

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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvrp:-1773
Note: In : Journal of the European Economic Association, 3(4), 946-965, 2005
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  1. Shlomo Weber & Victor Ginsburgh, 2004. "Languages Disenfranchisement in the European Union," Working Papers 2004.4, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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