Talking Business: New Evidence on How Language Shapes Economic Behaviour

50 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020

See all articles by Francesco Campo

Francesco Campo

University of Milan Bicocca

Luca Nunziata

University of Padua

Lorenzo Rocco

University of Padua; University of Toulouse I


We provide a large scale within-country analysis of the effect of language future time reference (FTR) on the choice of being an entrepreneur using individual-level data from Switzerland, a country characterized by a unique long-standing multilingualism and a large share of immigrant population. We test the hypothesis that speakers of weak FTR languages may have a closer perception of future rewards and be more willing to become entrepreneurs, a choice that reflects future orientation. Our analysis consistently indicates that immigrants who speak weak FTR languages are around 2 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs compared to speakers of strong FTR languages, net of unobservable ancestral cultural traits, districts of destination's characteristics, linguistic features other than FTR, and whether individuals maintain their native language or switch to one of the four Swiss languages.

JEL Classification: D15, J24, J6, L26, Z1

Suggested Citation

Campo, Francesco and Nunziata, Luca and Rocco, Lorenzo, Talking Business: New Evidence on How Language Shapes Economic Behaviour. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13897, Available at SSRN:

Francesco Campo (Contact Author)

University of Milan Bicocca ( email )

Piazza dell'Ateneo Nuovo 1
Milan, MI Milan 20126

HOME PAGE: http://

Luca Nunziata

University of Padua

35131 Padua

Lorenzo Rocco

University of Padua ( email )

Via 8 Febbraio, 2
Padova, Vicenza 35122

University of Toulouse I

Place Anatole France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042

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