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A Framework for Analyzing Language and Welfare

  • Jacques Mélitz


    (Heriot-Watt University,CEPR,CREST,CEPII)

The paper proposes a general model that will encompass trade and social benefits of a common language, a preference for a variety of languages, the fundamental role of translators, an emotional attachment to maternal language, and the threat that globalization poses to the vast majority of languages. With respect to people’s emotional attachment, the model considers minorities to suffer losses from the subordinate status of their language. In addition, the model treats the threat to minority language as coming from the failure of the parents in the minority to transmit their maternal language (durably) to their children. Some familiar results occur. In particular, we encounter the usual social inefficiencies of decentralized solutions to language learning when the sole benefits of the learning are communicative benefits (though translation intervenes). However, these social inefficiencies assume a totally different air when the consumer gains of variety are brought in. One fundamental aim of the paper is to bring together contributions to the economics of language from labor economics, network externalities and international trade that are typically treated separately

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Paper provided by Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique in its series Working Papers with number 2012-14.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2012-14
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  1. Olivier, Jacques & Thoenig, Mathias & Verdier, Thierry, 2008. "Globalization and the dynamics of cultural identity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 356-370, December.
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  3. Jean Gabszewicz & Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2011. "Bilingualism and Communicative Benefits," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 101-102, pages 271-286.
  4. Ginsburgh, Victor & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Weber, Shlomo, 2007. "Learning foreign languages: Theoretical and empirical implications of the Selten and Pool model," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(3-4), pages 337-347.
  5. Richard Fry & B. Lindsay Lowell, 2003. "The Value of Bilingualism in the U.S. Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 57(1), pages 128-140, October.
  6. GINSBURGH, Victor A. & WEBER, Shlomo & WEYERS, Sheila, . "The economics of literary translation: some theory and evidence," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2319, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Weitzman, M.L., 1991. "On Diversity," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1553, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Paul W. Miller & Barry R. Chiswick, 2002. "Immigrant earnings: Language skills, linguistic concentrations and the business cycle," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(1), pages 31-57.
  9. GINSBURGH, Victor & PRIETO-RODRIGUEZ, Juan, 2007. "Returns to foreign languages of native workers in the EU," CORE Discussion Papers 2007021, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  10. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-45, May.
  11. 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, 01-2013.
  12. 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.
  13. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
  14. repec:adr:anecst:y:2011:i:101-102:p:13 is not listed on IDEAS
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  16. 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.
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  19. Weitzman, M.L., 1992. "Diversity Functions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1610, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  20. Dustmann, Christian & van Soest, Arthur, 1998. "Language and the Earnings of Immigrants," CEPR Discussion Papers 2012, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  22. 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.
  23. 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.
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  25. Tamura, Robert, 2001. "Translators: Market makers in merging markets," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 25(11), pages 1775-1800, November.
  26. 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.
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