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Learning foreign languages: Theoretical and empirical implications of the Selten and Pool model

  • GINSBURGH, Victor
  • ORTUÑO-ORTÍN, Ignacio
  • WEBER, Shlomo

In this paper we adopt the Selten-Pool [Selten, R., Pool, J., 1991. The distribution of foreign language skills as a game equilibrium. In: Selten, R. (Ed.), Game Equilibrium Models, vol. 4. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 64-84] framework of language acquisition based on "communicative benefits" derived from the ability to communicate with other speakers of an acquired language, and "learning costs" incurred by acquiring a foreign language. We show that, under some mild conditions, there exists a unique interior linguistic equilibrium. We then derive demand functions for foreign languages, that we estimate for English, French, German and Spanish in 13 European countries and demonstrate that the properties of these functions are consistent with our theoretical results.

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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 -2027.

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Handle: RePEc:cor:louvrp:-2027
Note: In : Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 64, 337-347, 2007
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  1. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
  2. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. GINSBURGH, Victor & WEBER, Shlomo, . "Language disenfranchisement in the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1831, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. GINSBURGH, Victor & ORTUNO-ORTIN, Ignacio & WEBER, Shlomo, 2004. "Disenfranchisement in linguistically diverse societies. The case of the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers 2004080, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Lang, Kevin, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-82, May.
  6. 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.
  7. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-45, May.
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