DP3633 The Effect of Native Language on Internet Usage

Author(s): Neil Gandal
Publication Date: November 2002
Keyword(s): internet use, language, network effects
JEL(s): D12, L86
Programme Areas: Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=3633

In this Paper, I explore the relationship between native language and use of the Internet and examine whether English is likely to retain its first-mover advantage of a large installed base of English language websites. I study this issue empirically using a unique dataset on (home) Internet use at the individual level in Quebec from Media Metrix. The results suggest that English language websites are less of a barrier for French-speaking youths than for French-speaking adults in Quebec. To the extent that the younger generation drives the dynamics of the Internet, the results provide some support for the hypothesis that English will retain its first mover advantage of a large installed base of English language websites. I also examine the effect of bilingualism on Internet use and find that among native French speakers, bilingual individuals use English language websites significantly more than their monolingual counterparts.