DP15770 The measurement of the value of a language

Author(s): Jorge Alcalde Unzu, Juan D. Moreno-Ternero, Shlomo Weber
Publication Date: February 2021
Keyword(s): axioms, Characterization, Communicative benefits, Measure, Value of a language
JEL(s): C72, D62, D63, Z13
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15770

We address the problem of assessing the value of a language. We consider a stylized model of multilingual societies in which we introduce axioms formalizing the principles of impartiality, monotonicity, invariance and consistency. We show that the combination of these axioms characterizes a family of communicative benefit functions which assign a value to each language in the society. The functions within the family involve a two-step procedure. First, they identify the groups of agents that can communicate in each language. Second, each group is assigned an aggregate (size-dependent) value, which is evenly divided among the languages in which the group can communicate. Our novel approach could be useful in a wide range of empirical applications and policy decisions.