TV or not TV? The Impact of Subtitling on English Skills

Recognition Program

Authors: Ainoa Aparicio, Albert Banal-Estañol, Arturo Bris and Augusto Rupérez Micola

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Vol. 158, 487-499, February, 2019

We study the influence of television translation techniques on the worldwide distribution of English-speaking skills. We identify a large positive effect for subtitled original version broadcasts, as opposed to dubbed television, on English proficiency scores. We analyze the historical circumstances under which countries opted for one of the translation modes and use it to account for the possible endogeneity of the subtitling indicator. We disaggregate the results by type of skills and find that television works especially well for listening comprehension. Our paper suggests that governments could promote subtitling as a means to improve foreign language proficiency.

This paper is acknowledged by the Barcelona GSE Research Recognition Program