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Does Multiculturalism Pay? Empirical Evidence from the United States and Canada

Authors

  • Nazmun N. Ratna,

    1. Department of Accounting, Economics & Finance, Faculty of Commerce, Lincoln University, New Zealand
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  • Quentin Grafton,

    Corresponding author
    1. Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University, Australia
    • Department of Accounting, Economics & Finance, Faculty of Commerce, Lincoln University, New Zealand
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  • Ian A. MacDonald

    1. Department of Accounting, Economics & Finance, Faculty of Commerce, Lincoln University, New Zealand
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  • We thank the two anonymous referees and conference participants at the Western Economic Association International (WEAI) Conference in Vancouver for their helpful comments. We also thank Huy Hoang and Shuzhang Sun for their assistance in comprising the datasets, and gratefully acknowledge Lincoln University for providing funding to make this possible.

Correspondence: R. Quentin Grafton, Crawford School of Economics and Government, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. Email: quentin.grafton@anu.edu.au

Abstract

We investigate the economic impacts of social diversity and the consequent barriers of communication in Canada and the United States. Social diversity is explained by linguistic, cultural and religious differences across the 48 contiguous states in the United States and the 10 provinces in Canada. The ordinary least squares (OLS) and instrumental variables estimation show that social diversity increases per capita gross domestic product at the state and province level, but the positive economic pay-off from diversity diminishes as the level of fluency in official language declines. The empirical results provide an important economic rationale for overcoming linguistic divisions and “inclusive” multiculturalism in other pluralistic countries, such as Australia.

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