The Optimal Babel: An Economic Framework for the Analysis of Dynamic Language Rights

Constitutional economics and public institutions: Essays in honour of José Casas-Pardo. (Series: New thinking in political economy.) (Fransisco Cabrillo und Miguel Puchades Navarro, eds.). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar (2013) 322 – 344

Posted: 3 Nov 2015

See all articles by Bengt-Arne Wickström

Bengt-Arne Wickström

Research group "Economics and Language" - REAL; Andrássy-Universität Budapest

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Date Written: 2013

Abstract

We analyze various normatively determined distributions of language rights in multilingual settings. A general model for the analysis of language rights over time in a model with overlapping generations is set up. This model is then first used to find efficient allocations of rights in the tradition of Wicksell. It is shown that, when rights today influence the status of a language in the future, the "naive" static analysis has to be augmented in favor of further-reaching minority rights in order to take into account the dynamic aspect. It is then demonstrated that a traditional welfare-economic analysis generally goes even further in the support of minority rights. If a possible externality on other communities is taken into account, however, these results are reversed in a pure efficiency analysis. If redistribution arguments are taken into account, this provides an effect in the opposite direction again.

Keywords: Equivalence principle, minority rights, changeable preferences, dynamic preferences, welfare economics, overlapping generations.

JEL Classification: D610, D630, H590, K190, Z190

Suggested Citation

Wickström, Bengt-Arne, The Optimal Babel: An Economic Framework for the Analysis of Dynamic Language Rights (2013). Constitutional economics and public institutions: Essays in honour of José Casas-Pardo. (Series: New thinking in political economy.) (Fransisco Cabrillo und Miguel Puchades Navarro, eds.). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar (2013) 322 – 344, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2682427

Bengt-Arne Wickström (Contact Author)

Research group "Economics and Language" - REAL ( email )

Research Group "Economics and Language"
Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, 10099
Germany

Andrássy-Universität Budapest ( email )

Pollack Mihály tér 3
Budapest, 1088
Hungary

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