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ZEPPELIN Chair of International Economics

Research Projects

Foreign Languages and Trade

Project Description

Cultural factors and especially common languages are well-known determinants of trade. By contrast, the knowledge of foreign languages was not explored in the literature so far, although communication in non-native languages shapes business relationships. For example, only one third of fluent speakers of English in Europe are living in countries with English as official language. We combine traditional gravity models with data on fluency in the main languages used in EU. We show that widespread knowledge of languages is an important determinant for foreign trade, with English playing an especially important role. The robustness of our results is confirmed by quantile regressions


Project Duration

from 01.05.2011 through 31.12.2016

Project Head

Prof. Dr. Jarko Fidrmuc

Project Execution


eigenfinanziertes Forschungsprojekt

Project-related Publications

  • Fidrmuc, Jarko / Fidrmuc, Jan: Foreign Languages and Trade: Evidence from a Natural Experiment, Empirical Economics, 2016, Jg. 50 (1): 31 - 49, http://10.1007/s00181-015-0999-7