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The Economics of Language

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  • Victor Ginsburgh
  • Shlomo Weber

Abstract

The paper brings together methodological, theoretical, and empirical analysis into the single framework of linguistic diversity. It reflects both historical and contemporary research by economists and other social scientists on the impact of language on economic outcomes and public policies. We examine whether and how language influences human thinking (including emotions) and behavior, analyze the effects of linguistic distances on trade, migrations, financial markets, language learning and its returns. The quantitative foundations of linguistic diversity, which rely on group identification, linguistic distances as well as fractionalization, polarization and disenfranchisement indices are discussed in terms of their empirical challenges and uses. We conclude with an analysis of linguistic policies and shifts of languages and examine their welfare effects and the trade-offs between the development of labor markets and the social costs that they generate in various countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2018. "The Economics of Language," Working Papers ECARES 2018-18, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/271889
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Languages; economic behavior; educational linguistic policies; linguistic distances; diversity indices; welfare;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N30 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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