The economics of language policy and planning

Bengt-Arne Wickström, Michele Gazzola

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter uses elementary economic welfare theory to analyse language policy and planning. Government policy is motivated and justified by problems of market failure (inefficiencies) in a laisser-faire situation as well as by a wish for equity and fairness between different individuals. Inefficiency is shown to be a consequence of different properties of language-related goods. Cost–benefit and cost-effectiveness analysis are methods for applying theoretical considerations to practical problems. Here, the costs (structures) of different language planning measures are important. As an illustration, it is shown that the very common ‘percentage rule’ for implementing policy measures can lead to undesired results.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Language Policy and Planning
EditorsMichele Gazzola, François Grin, Linda Cardinal, Kathleen Heugh
ISBN (Print)9781138328198
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Aug 2023


  • Welfare economics
  • language policy
  • language planning
  • cost analysis
  • public goods and market failure
  • Externality
  • Minority Languages


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