Your Language or Mine? The Noncommunicative Benefits of Language Skills

25 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2018

See all articles by Ramon Caminal

Ramon Caminal

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona - Institut d'Analisi Economica, CSIC; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Antonio Di Paolo

University of Barcelona

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

Do languages matter beyond their communicative benefits? We explore the potential role of preferences over the language of use, theoretically and empirically. We focus on Catalonia, a bilingual society where everyone is fully proficient in Spanish, to isolate linguistic preferences from communicative benefits. Moreover, we exploit the language‐in‐education reform of 1983 to identify the causal effects of language skills. Results indicate that the policy change has improved the Catalan proficiency of native Spanish speakers, which in turn increased their propensity to find Catalan‐speaking partners. Hence, the acquisition of apparently redundant language skills has reduced endogamy.

JEL Classification: C26, C78, I28, J12, J15, Z13

Suggested Citation

Caminal, Ramon and Di Paolo, Antonio, Your Language or Mine? The Noncommunicative Benefits of Language Skills (January 2019). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 57, Issue 1, pp. 726-750, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3295860 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecin.12542

Ramon Caminal (Contact Author)

Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona - Institut d'Analisi Economica, CSIC ( email )

08193 Bellaterra
Spain
+34 93 580 6612 (Phone)
+34 93 580 1452 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Antonio Di Paolo

University of Barcelona

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