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The Economics of Language Policy$
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Michele Gazzola and Bengt-Arne Wickström

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034708

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034708.001.0001

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Economic Value of Reciprocal Bilingualism

Economic Value of Reciprocal Bilingualism

Chapter:
(p.165) 5 Economic Value of Reciprocal Bilingualism
Source:
The Economics of Language Policy
Author(s):

Ramon Caminal

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034708.003.0006

Some bilingual societies exhibit a distribution of language skills that cannot be explained by economic theories that portray languages as pure communication devices. Such distribution of skills are typically the result of public policies that promote bilingualism among members of both speech communities (reciprocal bilingualism). In this paper I argue that these policies are likely to increase social welfare by diminishing economic and social segmentation between the two communities. However, these gains tend to be unequally distributed over the two communities. As a result, in a large range of circumstances these policies might not draw sufficient support. The model is built upon the communicative value of languages, but also emphasizes the role of linguistic preferences in the behavior of bilingual individuals.

Keywords:   Language skills, Reciprocal bilingualism, Language skill distribution, Bilingualism, Economic and social segmentation

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