Economics of language in Africa?

Don Osborn dzo at
Mon Apr 7 03:24:35 UTC 2008

I am exploring the field of economics of language in relation to some other
research and wondered if there is anyone working in this area with regard to


In the mid-90s François Grin (1994:26) provided what I find to be a very
helpful stocktaking of the field at the time (he cites more extensive
bibliographic reviews including one of his own that I haven't yet accessed).
At that time, Grin described economics of language as being tolerated "as an
intriguing fringe interest" within the discipline of economics. A few years
later, Donald Lamberton (2002:xi) wrote that "the economics of language has
been neglected and deserves much greater attention." Nevertheless it does
seem that this field has been getting a bit more attention in recent years. 


On the other hand, I have not had much luck with finding discussion of
economics of language in Africa, or of economics of African languages. I did
come across an article by David Laitin (1993) using game theory to discuss
language choice in various contexts in Ghana (and other areas). I suspect
there may be more material treating one aspect or another of economics of
language in Africa, so would appreciate any pointers or contacts on the


It seems to me that this field has some significant contributions to make to
discussions of language policy and planning in Africa (which some sources
also consider to be neglected). 


Thank you in advance.



Citations and other sources:


Breton, Albert, ed. 2000. Exploring the Economics of Language. Ottawa:
Official Languages Support Program, Canadian Heritage.


Chiswick, Barry R., and Paul W. Miller. 2007. The Economics of Language:
International Analyses. Routledge.


Grin, François. 1994. "The Economics of Language: Match or Mismatch?"
International Political Science Review 15(1): 25-42


Grin, François, and François Vaillancourt. n.d. "The Economics of
Multilingualism: Overview of the Literature and Analytical Framework"


Lamberton, Donald M., ed. 2002. The Economics of Language. Cheltenham, UK:
E. Elgar Pub.


Laitin, David. 1993. "The Game Theory of Language Regimes." International
Political Science Review 14(3): 227-239.


(NB- I put up a stub article on this topic on Wikipedia at )

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