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The Political Economy of Linguistic Cleavages

  • Klaus Desmet
  • Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín
  • Romain Wacziarg

This paper uses a linguistic tree, describing the genealogical relationship between all 6,912 world languages, to compute measures of diversity at different levels of linguistic aggregation. By doing so, we let the data inform us on which linguistic cleavages are most relevant for a range of political economy outcomes, rather than making ad hoc choices. We find that deep cleavages, originating thousands of years ago, lead to better predictors of civil conflict and redistribution. The opposite pattern emerges when it comes to the impact of linguistic diversity on growth and public goods provision, where finer distinctions between languages matter.

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Paper provided by Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfswetenschappen, Vives in its series Vives discussion paper series with number 20.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ete:vivwps:20
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  28. Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin & Shlomo Weber , 2008. "Linguistic Diversity and Redistribution ," Working Papers 004-08, International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia.
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