Books are an important factor of cultural transmission, but often need to be translated to achieve this goal. English is sometimes accused of dominating in terms of translations. We develop a simple theoretical model, which is estimated using UNESCO translation data, and show that if account is taken of factors such as production in the original language and distances between cultures, translations from English are by-passed in relative terms by translations from other idioms, including Scandinavian languages and French. Very little is however translated into English.
Victor Ginsburgh, Shlomo Weber, and Sheila Weyers,
"Economics of Literary Translation. A Simple Theory and Evidence"
(February 1, 2011).
Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei Working Papers.
Working Paper 174.