Previous studies have shown that saving rates are influenced by, among other things, demographics and income, but much of the difference in saving rates across societies remains unexplained. This column uses data covering three generations of immigrants in the UK to demonstrate that culture is an important explanation for cross-country differences in saving behaviour. When designing incentives to save, culture should therefore be taken into account.
Traditional economic interpretations have not been successful in explaining differences in saving rates across countries. One hypothesis is that savings respond to cultural specific social norms. The accepted view in economics so far is that culture does not have any effect on savings. We revisit this evidence using a novel dataset, which allows us to study the saving behavior of up to three generations of immigrants in the United Kingdom. Against the backdrop of existing evidence, we find that cultural preferences are an important explanation for cross-country differences in saving behavior, and their relevance persists up to three generations.
three main priorities the political-Left should be focused on in the aftermath of the financial crisis: they must produce new ideas if they are to supplant neo-liberal ideology, properly express their aims in order to effectively communicate with the electorate, and focus on organising capital rather than labour.