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Human Capital: How We Talk

Jun 21, 2013 • Behavioral Economics, Gender Issues, Labor, Macroeconomic Measurement, Thinking Economically • 208 Views    No Comments

Joshua Katz, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, created a mesmerizing series of 122 visualizations showing regional differences in US pronunciation. Beyond statistics and linguistics, his data could have economic significance.

But first…

How do you refer to a “sweetened carbonated beverage?”

From Joshua Katz, N.C. State University

From Joshua Katz, N.C. State University

Coming from New Jersey, I thought everyone pours maple “sear-up.”

Joshua Katz, N.C. State University

From Joshua Katz, N.C. State University

And finally, “pajamas” really divide the US.

From Joshua Katz, N.C. State Universty

From Joshua Katz, N.C. State Universty

 

Seeing regional pronunciation differences, I wondered about the economic connection. My search took me to one paper on the economic payoff of a shared dialect. Similarly, by adding to trust and cultural affinity, a common social identity can affect the impact of our human capital.

Sources and resources: Once you start looking at Joshua Katz’s maps (based on data from Dr. Bert Vaux from Cambridge University), it is tough to stop. While I could not discover economic research that directly confirmed the impact of US dialects on the value of human capital, this paper on the economic payoff from cultural affinity and this one on economics and identity provide fascinating ideas we can consider.

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