Unilingual versus Bilingual Education: a Political Economy Analysis

Ortega, J. & Tangeraas, T. (2008). Unilingual versus Bilingual Education: a Political Economy Analysis. Journal of the European Economic Association, 6(5), pp. 1078-1108. doi: 10.1162/JEEA.2008.6.5.1078

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Abstract

We consider an economy with two language groups, where only agents who share a language can produce together. Schooling enhances the productivity of students. Individuals attending a unilingual school end up speaking the language of instruction only, while bilingual schools render
individuals bilingual at the same cost. The politically dominant group(not necessarily the majority) chooses the type(s) of schools accessible to each language group, and then individuals decide whether to attend school. We show that the dominant either choose laissez-faire or restrict access to schools in the language of the dominated. Instead, the dominated favour the use of their own language. Thus, while agents do not derive utility from speaking their mother tongue, language conflicts of the expected type endogenously arise. Democracy (majority rule) always leads to the implementation of a socially optimal education system, while restrictions to the use of the language of the dominated are implemented too often under minority rule. The model is consistent with evidence from Belgium, France, and Finland.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: education, language policies, skills, minorities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Economics
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/3593

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