Linguistic Relativity and Economics

AuthorsAstghik Mavisakalyan, Clas Weber
PublishedDecember 2016
PublisherBankwest Curtin Economics Centre
Number of Pages24

The theory of linguistic relativity—the idea that our language influences our thinking—has a long history in the humanities. Speakers of different languages may systematically think and behave differently. This phenomenon has only recently attracted attention from economists. This paper provides the first comprehensive review of this nascent literature. First we explain the linguistic relativity thesis. Then we summarise the empirical evidence on the relationship between linguistic structures and economic outcomes. We follow up with a discussion of empirical design and identification. The paper concludes by discussing implications for future research and policy.