DP9357 Culture, Languages, and Economics

Author(s): Victor Ginsburgh, Shlomo Weber
Publication Date: February 2013
Keyword(s): culture, economic impact, ethnolinguistic fractionalization, linguistic disenfranchisement, measurement of diversity, standardization policies
JEL(s): D63, H77, Z18
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9357

The impact of various facets of cultural diversity on economic outcomes has become a topic of intensive research in economics. This paper focuses on linguistic diversity as one of the important aspects of cultural heterogeneity, and more specifically, The aim of this paper is to formally examine two opposing forces, standardization and efficiency on the one hand, and cultural attachment and linguistic disenfranchisement, on the other, and to outline ways of bringing them to balance each other. In our measurement of disenfranchisement and fractionalization we heavily rely on the notion of linguistic distances or proximity between various linguistic groups. We also analyze the impact of linguistic diversity on trade, migration and markets for translation. We conclude by examining the issue of disenfranchisement in the European Union and possible standardization policies to address this issue.