Americans are increasingly financially fragile with massive credit card debt and a mounting inability to see themselves through times of financial hardship (i.e. the loss of a job or severe illness). Researchers find that one quarter of Americans could not come up with the savings or assets to cover a financial shock of $2,000 within 30 days. This lack of savings in the United States stands in stark contrast to the thrifty values espoused in a number of European and Asian countries, where saving is a stylish and popular practice. Traditional indicators of household savings rates (i.e. the real interest rate, public debt, and growth in GDP per capita) fail to capture all of the variation observed from country to country; and therefore, innovative approaches now incorporate various cultural factors. This paper seeks to build upon previous work, utilizing a unique three stage regression analysis to examine the question, to what extent do cultural differences influence the variation in household savings rates around the world? Ultimately, this research finds that nations that place a higher value on teaching children about thrift have higher household savings rates. However, it is important to note that this cultural value for thrift is a product of various historical, political, and economic forces. This suggests that one must reconsider a linear notion of causality between culture and economics and instead reflect upon the manner in which the two constantly interact with and influence one another.
Includes bibliographical references.