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Linguistic Diversity and Redistribution

  • Klaus Desmet


    (Universidad Carlos III, Getafe (Madrid), Spain, and CEPR)

  • Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin


    (Universidad Carlos III, Getafe (Madrid), Spain)

  • Shlomo Weber


    (Southern Methodist University, Dallas, USA, CORE, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, and CEPR)

This paper investigates the effect of linguistic diversity on redistribution in a broad cross-section of countries. We use the notion of "linguistic distances" and show that the commonly used fractionalization index, which ignores linguistic distances, yields insignificant results. However, once distances between languages are accounted for, linguistic diversity has both a statistically and economically significant effect on redistribution. With an average level of redistribution of 9.5% of GDP in our data set, an increase by one standard deviation in the degree of diversity lowers redistribution by approximately one percentage point. We also demonstrate that other measures, such as polarization and peripheral heterogeneity, provide similar results when linguistic distances are incorporated.

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Paper provided by International School of Economics at TSU, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia in its series Working Papers with number 004-08.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tbs:wpaper:08-004
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  1. Lind, Jo Thori, 2003. "Fractionalization and the size of government," Memorandum 21/2003, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  2. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2008. "On the Theory of Ethnic Conflict," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 08-08, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
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  5. Woojin Lee & John E. Roemer, 2004. "Racism and Redistribution in the United States: A Solution to the Problem of American Exceptionalism," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1462, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. GINSBURGH, Victor & ORTUNO-ORTIN, Ignacio & WEBER, Shlomo, 2004. "Disenfranchisement in linguistically diverse societies. The case of the European Union," CORE Discussion Papers 2004080, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  7. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Easterly, W & Levine, R, 1996. "Africa's Growth Tragedy : Policies and Ethnic Divisions," Papers 536, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
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  10. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1999. "Conflict and Distribution," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 379-415, August.
  11. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," JCPR Working Papers 61, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  12. Desmet, Klaus & Ortuño-Ortín, Ignacio & Weber, Shlomo, 2005. "Peripheral Diversity and Redistribution," CEPR Discussion Papers 5112, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2007. "The Diffusion of Development," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0704, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  14. Jean-Yves Duclos & Joan Esteban & Debraj Ray, 2004. "Polarization: Concepts, Measurement, Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1737-1772, November.
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  16. José G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2005. "Ethnic Polarization, Potential Conflict, and Civil Wars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 796-816, June.
  17. Marta Reynal-Querol, 2002. "Ethnicity, Political Systems, and Civil Wars," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 46(1), pages 29-54, February.
  18. José Garcia Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol, 2002. "Why ethnic fractionalization? Polarization, ethnic conflict and growth," Economics Working Papers 660, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2002.
  19. 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.
  20. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2004. "Community Composition and Collective Action: Analyzing Initial Mail Response to the 2000 Census," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 303-312, February.
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