Markets and linguistic diversity


The choice of language is a crucial decision for …rms competing in cultural goods and media markets with a bilingual or multilingual consumer base. To the extent that multilingual consumers have preferences over the intrinsic characteristics (content) as well as over the language of the product, we can examine the efficiency of market outcomes regarding linguistic diversity. In this paper, I extend the spokes model and introduce language as an additional dimension of product differentiation. I show that: (i) if …rms supply their product in a single language (the adoption model) then the degree of linguistic diversity is inefficiently low, and (ii) if some …rms supply more than one linguistic version (the translation model) then in principle the market outcome may exhibit insufficient or excessive linguistic diversity. However, excessive diversity is associated to markets where the fraction of products in the minority language is disproportionately high with respect to the relative size of the linguistic minority.
Published as: Markets and Linguistic Diversity, in Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization January, 2010