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Unilingual Versus Bilingual Education System: A Political Economy Analysis

  • Ortega, Javier

    ()

    (City University London)

  • Tangerås, Thomas P.

    ()

    (IUI - Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1433.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1433
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  1. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2005. "Language disenfranchisement in the European Union," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5263, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S95-S126, December.
  3. Paul Klemperer & Joseph Farrell, 2006. "Coordination and Lock-In: Competition with Switching Costs and Network Effects," Economics Series Working Papers 2006-W07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Lang, Kevin, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-82, May.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. Jeffrey Church & Ian King, 1993. "Bilingualism and Network Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(2), pages 337-45, May.
  8. P. Diamond, 1980. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Working papers 268, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  9. 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 246-88, April.
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