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Unilingual Versus Bilingual Education System: A Political Economy Analysis

Author

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  • Ortega, Javier

    () (City University London)

  • Tangerås, Thomas P.

    () (IUI - Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

Abstract

We consider an economy with two language groups, where only agents who share a language can produce together. Schooling enhances the productivity of students and may modify their language endowment. Under a unilingual system, the language of the politically dominant group is the only language of instruction, and the members of the politically dominated group who attend school shift language. Instead, under a bilingual system, the members of the dominated group who attend school become bilingual. The dominant group chooses the education system, and then individuals decide whether to attend school. While agents do not get utility from speaking their own language, we show that a language conflict of the expected type endogenously arises in the choice between a unilingual and a bilingual system. Democracy (majority rule) always leads to the implementation of the socially optimal education system, while the unilingual system is too often implemented under minority rule. In the presence of productivity spillovers, there may be unanimity for unilingualism, even if this system is assumed to be technologically inferior. The model is consistent with evidence from Finland in 1919 and France in 1863, showing that the choice of bilingualism in education may not be related to the size of language groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Ortega, Javier & Tangerås, Thomas P., 2004. "Unilingual Versus Bilingual Education System: A Political Economy Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1433, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1433
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kevin Lang, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-382.
    2. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Language Disenfranchisement in the European Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 273-286, June.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-288, April.
    4. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-345, May.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:03:p:622-634_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-894, October.
    7. Ortega, Javier & Tangeraas, Thomas, 2003. "Unilingual versus Bilingual Education System: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4003, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 95-126, December.
    9. Farrell, Joseph & Klemperer, Paul, 2007. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Handbook of Industrial Organization, Elsevier.
    10. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Caminal, Ramon, 2010. "Markets and linguistic diversity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 774-790, December.
    2. Ortega, Javier & Tangeraas, Thomas, 2003. "Unilingual versus Bilingual Education System: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4003, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Efraín Rodríguez Lozano, 2011. "¿Barreras Lingüísticas en la Educación?: La Influencia de la Lengua Materna en la Deserción Escolar," Documentos de Trabajo / Working Papers 2011-324, Departamento de Economía - Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; language policies; skills; minorities;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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