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The Geography of Linguistic Diversity and the Provision of Public Goods

Author

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  • Joseph Flavian Gomes
  • Klaus Desmet
  • Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín

Abstract

This paper theoretically analyzes and empirically investigates the importance of local interaction between individuals of different linguistic groups for the provision of public goods at the national level. Depending on whether local interaction mitigates or reinforces antagonism towards other groups, the micro-founded theory we develop predicts that a country's provision of public goods (i) decreases in its overall linguistic fractionalization, and (ii) either increases or decreases in how much individuals locally learn about other groups. After constructing a 5 km by 5 km geographic dataset on language use for 223 countries, we compute measures of overall fractionalization and local learning, and investigate their relation to public good provision at the country level. While overall fractionalization worsens outcomes, we find a positive causal relation between local learning and public goods. Local mixing therefore mitigates the negative impact of a country's overall linguistic fractionalization. An IV strategy shows that this result is not driven by the possible endogenous spatial distribution of language speakers within countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Flavian Gomes & Klaus Desmet & Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín, 2016. "The Geography of Linguistic Diversity and the Provision of Public Goods," NCID Working Papers 07/2016, Navarra Center for International Development, University of Navarra.
  • Handle: RePEc:nva:unnvaa:wp07-2016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    7. Desmet, Klaus & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Wacziarg, Romain, 2012. "The political economy of linguistic cleavages," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 322-338.
    8. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
    9. Greif, Avner, 1993. "Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: the Maghribi Traders' Coalition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 525-548, June.
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    12. repec:eee:deveco:v:133:y:2018:i:c:p:231-263 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Gershman, Boris & Rivera, Diego, 2018. "Subnational diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights from a new dataset," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 231-263.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hodler, Roland & Valsecchi, Michele & Vesperoni, Alberto, 2017. "Ethnic Geography: Measurement and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 12378, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Gershman, Boris & Rivera, Diego, 2018. "Subnational diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Insights from a new dataset," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 231-263.
    3. Samuel Bazzi & Matthew Gudgeon, 2017. "The Political Boundaries of Ethnic Divisions," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-005, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    4. Maria D. C. Garcia-Alonso & Zaki Wahhaj, 2018. "Social Diversity and Bridging Identity," Studies in Economics 1802, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    5. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata, 2017. "Linguistic Distance and Market Integration in India," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 331, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    6. Gomes, Joseph, 2014. "The health costs of ethnic distance: evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-33, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    7. Samuel Bazzi & Arya Gaduh & Alexander Rothenberg & Maisy Wong, "undated". "Unity in Diversity? How Intergroup Contact Can Foster Nation Building," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-006, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    8. J. Vernon Henderson & Sebastian Kriticos & Dzhamilya Nigmatulina, 2018. "Measuring Urban Economic Density," CEP Discussion Papers dp1569, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    9. Bazzi, Samuel & Gaduh, Arya & Rothenberg, Alexander & Wong, Maisy, 2017. "Unity in Diversity? Ethnicity, Migration, and Nation Building in Indonesia," CEPR Discussion Papers 12377, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions

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