DP4942 Learning Foreign Languages.Theoretical and Empirical Implications of the Selten and Pool Model

Author(s): Victor Ginsburgh, Ignacio Ortuño-Ortín, Shlomo Weber
Publication Date: March 2005
Keyword(s): communicative benefits, estimation of demand functions for languages, European Union, languages, learning costs, linguistic distances
JEL(s): C72, O52, Z13
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4942

In this paper we adopt the Selten-Pool model (1993) framework of language acquisition that is based on the notion of communicative benefits and learning costs. We consider a model with languages that serve as imperfect substitutes and show that under supermodularity of the communicative benefits function and some other mild conditions, there exists a unique interior linguistic equilibrium. We then derive a demand function for foreign languages that we estimate for English, French, German and Spanish in 13 European countries.