• Victor Ginsburgh
  • Shlomo Weber


The origin of economics of language as a discipline is often credited to prominent economist Jacob Marschak (1965), whose interest in languages was perhaps aided by his command of ten languages. Marshack was the first to introduce explicitly the concept of costs and benefits into linguistic analysis. Some other early contributions (for example, Pool, 1972; Breton, 1978; McManus et al., 1978; Grenier, 1984) notwithstanding, the impact of language on social, political and economic outcomes was mainly the territory of linguists and sociolinguists, political scientists, anthropologists and psychologists. Vaillancourt’s (1982/1983) paper ‘The Economics of Language and Language Planning’ contains 37 references of which more than half were concerned with Quebec’s linguistic problems. In his conclusion, he notes that ‘[t]he main goal of this paper was to review the literature on the economics of language and of language planning so as to provide the reader with an overview of its main findings. To the author’s knowledge that literature, at least in English and French, deals almost exclusively with the case of Quebec. If this is correct, then this paper is a fairly complete survey of it.’ Though this is probably not fully correct, it shows that the literature on language and economics was not quite extensive, as is also evident from Lamberton’s (2002) collection of existing papers. In their important paper Selten and Pool (1991) quote 12 papers only, of which seven are concerned with Quebec (six are written in French and one in English).


Language Policy Linguistic Diversity Common Language Cultural Distance Minority Language 
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© Victor Ginsburgh and Shlomo Weber 2016

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  • Victor Ginsburgh
  • Shlomo Weber

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