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Markets and linguistic diversity

  • Caminal, Ramon

Producers of cultural goods and media products can only make their specific contents available to their audiences and readerships through a particular language. The choice of language is a trivial decision if consumers are monolingual. However, the fraction of bilingual consumers is high in some areas and rising everywhere because of the rapid expansion of English as a second language. In this paper I argue that, independently of the gains associated with the use of a lingua franca, the very existence of bilingual consumers may seriously bias market outcomes against minority languages. In particular, I show that the level of linguistic diversity determined by profit maximizing firms tends to be inefficiently low, except when and where the cost of producing a second linguistic version becomes sufficiently low. Thus, the model provides an efficiency argument supporting policies that protect minority languages in these markets.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7587.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7587
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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  2. Peitz, Martin & Valletti, Tommaso, 2004. "Content and Advertising in the Media: Pay-TV versus Free-To-Air," CEPR Discussion Papers 4771, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Shlomo Weber & Victor Ginsburgh & Sheila Weyers, 2008. "Economics of Literary Translation. A Simple Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 2008.12, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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  5. Victor Ginsburgh & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Disenfranchisement In Linguistically Diverse Societies: The Case Of The European Union," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 946-965, 06.
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  8. 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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