IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/5249.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Culture and Language

Author

Listed:
  • Edward P. Lazear

Abstract

Common culture and common language facilitate trade between people. Minorities have incentives to become assimilated and to learn the majority language so that they have a larger pool of potential trading partners. The value of assimilation is larger to someone from a small minority than to one from a large minority group. When a society has a very large majority of individuals from one culture, individuals from minority groups will be assimilated more quickly. Assimilation is less likely when an immigrant's native culture and language is broadly represented in his new country. Also, when governments protect minority interests directly, incentives to be assimilated into the majority culture are reduced. Both factors may explain the recent rise in multiculturalism. Individuals do not properly internalize the social value of assimilation and ignore the benefits others receive when they learn the majority language and become assimilated. In a pluralistic society, a government policy that encourages diverse cultural immigration over concentrated immigration is likely to increase the welfare of the population. In the absence of strong offsetting effects, policies which encourage multi- culturalism reduce the amount of trade and have adverse welfare consequences. Conversely, policies that subsidize assimilation and the acquisition of majority language skills can be socially beneficial. The theory is tested and confirmed by examining U.S. Census data, which reveals that the likelihood that an immigrant will learn English is inversely related to the proportion of the local population that speaks his or her native language.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5249
    Note: LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5249.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kevin Lang, 1986. "A Language Theory of Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(2), pages 363-382.
    2. Edward Lazear, 1983. "Intergenerational Externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 16(2), pages 212-228, May.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
    4. 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.
    5. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    6. Jackson, Matthew O. & Wolinsky, Asher, 1996. "A Strategic Model of Social and Economic Networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 44-74, October.
    7. Laitin, David D., 1994. "The Tower of Babel as a Coordination Game: Political Linguistics in Ghana," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 88(3), pages 622-634, September.
    8. Martin L. Weitzman, 1992. "On Diversity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 363-405.
    9. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
    10. Economides, Nicholas & Siow, Aloysius, 1988. "The Division of Markets is Limited by the Extent of Liquidity (Spatial Competition with Externalities)," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 108-121, March.
    11. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-170, April.
    12. 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 101-130, April.
    13. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul M, 1996. "Ethnic Networks and Language Proficiency among Immigrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(1), pages 19-35, February.
    14. Jerry Green, 1976. "On the Optimal Structure of Liability Laws," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 7(2), pages 553-574, Autumn.
    15. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1994. "Language Choice among Immigrants in a Multi-lingual Destination," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 7(2), pages 119-131.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ilhom Abdulloev & Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2014. "Ethnic Goods and Immigrant Assimilation," Working Papers 2014-03, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    2. Dustmann, Christian & Glitz, Albrecht, 2011. "Migration and Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 327-439, Elsevier.
    3. Barry R. Chiswick, 2000. "A Model of Immigrant Language Acquisition: Application to Male Immigrants in Canada," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 149, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    4. Gao, Wenshu & Smyth, Russell, 2011. "Economic returns to speaking 'standard Mandarin' among migrants in China's urban labour market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 342-352, April.
    5. Chiswick, Barry R., 2008. "The Economics of Language: An Introduction and Overview," IZA Discussion Papers 3568, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "The role of social networks in cultural assimilation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 15-39.
    7. Casale, Daniela & Posel, Dorrit, 2011. "English language proficiency and earnings in a developing country: The case of South Africa," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 385-393, August.
    8. Barry R. Chiswick & Yew Liang Lee & Paul W. Miller, 2002. "Immigrants' Language Skills and Visa Category," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 02-05, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    9. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2011. "Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 1-32, Spring.
    10. Maani, Sholeh A. & Wang, Xingang & Rogers, Alan, 2015. "Network Effects, Ethnic Capital and Immigrants' Earnings Assimilation: Evidence from a Spatial, Hausman-Taylor Estimation," IZA Discussion Papers 9308, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Chiswick, Barry R. & Lee, Yew Liang & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Immigrants' Language Skills: The Australian Experience in a Longitudinal Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 502, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Barry R. Chiswick & Yew Liang Lee & Paul W. Miller, 2002. "Immigrants' Language Skills: The Australian Experience," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 02-07, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    13. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2020. "The Economics of Language," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(2), pages 348-404, June.
    14. Gil S. Epstein & Erez Siniver, 2012. "Can an ethnic group climb up from the bottom of the ladder?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(3), pages 2414-2441.
    15. Aldashev, Alisher & Gernandt, Johannes & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2009. "Language usage, participation, employment and earnings: Evidence for foreigners in West Germany with multiple sources of selection," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 330-341, June.
    16. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 2007. "Modeling Immigrants’ Language Skills," Research in Labor Economics, in: Barry R. Chiswick (ed.), Immigration, volume 27, pages 75-128, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    17. Alejandra Cattaneo & Rainer Winkelmann, 2005. "Earnings Differentials between German and French speakers in Switzerland," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(II), pages 191-212, June.
    18. Prummer, Anja & Siedlarek, Jan-Peter, 2014. "Institutions And The Preservation Of Cultural Traits," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 470, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    19. Ilana Redstone Akresh, 2008. "Occupational Trajectories of Legal US Immigrants: Downgrading and Recovery," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(3), pages 435-456, September.
    20. Budría, Santiago & Swedberg, Pablo, 2014. "The Impact of Multilingualism on Spanish Language Acquisition among Immigrants in Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 8748, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5249. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.