2006–2010

Unilingual versus Bilingual Education: A Political Economy Analysis

Reprint No. 2008:16

Author(s): Javier Ortega and Thomas TangeråsYear: 2008 Title: Journal of the European Economic Association Volume (No.): 6 (5) Pages: 1078–1108


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, whereas 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, although 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, whereas 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.


Reference:
Ortega, Javier and Thomas Tangerås (2008), "Unilingual versus Bilingual Education: A Political Economy Analysis". Journal of the European Economic Association 6(5), 1078–1108.

Thomas Tangerås

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Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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