The political economy of linguistic cleavages Articles uri icon

publication date

  • March 2012

start page

  • 322

end page

  • 332

issue

  • 2

volume

  • 97

international standard serial number (ISSN)

  • 0304-3878

electronic international standard serial number (EISSN)

  • 1872-6089

abstract

  • This paper uses a linguistic tree, describing the genealogical relationship between all 6912 world languages, to compute measures of diversity at different levels of linguistic aggregation. By doing so, we let the data inform us on which linguistic cleavages are most relevant for a range of political economy outcomes, rather than making ad hoc choices. We find that deep cleavages, originating thousands of years ago, lead to better predictors of civil conflict and redistribution. The opposite pattern emerges when it comes to the impact of linguistic diversity on growth and public goods provision, where finer distinctions between languages matter