Discussion paper

DP10640 Linguistic Distances and their Use in Economics

The paper offers an overview of the various approaches to compute linguistic distances (the lexicostatistic method, Levenshtein distances, distances based on language trees, phonetic distances, the ASJP project and distances based on learning scores) as well as distances between groups. It also briefly describes how distances directly affect economic outcomes such as international trade, migrations, language acquisition and earnings, translations. Finally, one can construct indices that take account (or not) of distances and how these indices are used by economists to measure their impact outcomes such as redistribution, the provision of public goods, growth, or corruption.


Ginsburgh, V and S Weber (2015), ‘DP10640 Linguistic Distances and their Use in Economics‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 10640. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10640