Culture: persistence and evolution

  • Francesco Giavazzi
  • Ivan PetkovEmail author
  • Fabio Schiantarelli


This paper documents the speed of evolution (or lack thereof) of a range of values and beliefs of different generations of US immigrants, and interprets the evidence in the light of a model of socialization and identity choice. Convergence to the norm differs greatly across cultural attitudes. Moreover, results obtained studying higher generation immigrants differ from those found when the analysis is limited to the second generation and imply a lower degree of persistence than previously thought. Persistence is also country specific, in the sense that the country of origin of one’s ancestors matters for the pattern of generational convergence.


Culture Values Beliefs Transmission Persistence Evolution Immigration Integration 

JEL Classification

A13 F22 J00 J61 Z1 


Supplementary material

10887_2019_9166_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (909 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 908 KB)
10887_2019_9166_MOESM2_ESM.dta (362.8 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (dta 371520 KB)
10887_2019_9166_MOESM3_ESM.dta (8.7 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (dta 8934 KB)


  1. Abramitzky, R., Boustan, L. P., & Eriksson, K. (2016). Cultural assimilation during the age of mass migration. Working Paper No.22381. National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  2. Alba, R. D. (1985). Italian Americans: Into the twilight of ethnicity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Albanesi, S., & Olivetti, C. (2016). Gender roles and medical progress. Journal of Political Economy, 124(3), 650–695.Google Scholar
  4. Akerlof, G. A., & Kranton, R. E. (2000). Economics and Identity. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 715–753.Google Scholar
  5. Alesina, A., & Giuliano, P. (2010). The power of the family. Journal of Economic Growth, 15, 93–125.Google Scholar
  6. Alesina, Alberto, & Giuliano, Paola (2011). Preferences for redistribution. In A. Bisin and J. Benhabib (eds.), Handbook of social economics, North Holland, 2011, Ch.4, 93–132.Google Scholar
  7. Alesina, A., & Giuliano, P. (2015). Culture and institutions. Journal of Economic Literature, 53(4), 898–944.Google Scholar
  8. Alesina, A., Giuliano, P., & Nunn, N. (2013). On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 128(2), 469–530.Google Scholar
  9. Alesina, A., & Fuchs-Schuendeln, N. (2007). Good bye Lenin (or not?): The effect of communism on people’s preferences. The American Economic Review, 97(4), 1507–1528.Google Scholar
  10. Alesina, A., & Angeletos, G.-M. (2005). Fairness and redistribution: US versus Europe. American Economic Review, 95, 913–35.Google Scholar
  11. Alesina, A., & Glazer, E. (2004). Fighting poverty in the US and Europe: A world of difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Algan, Yann, & Cahuc, Pierre. (2007). The roots of low european employment: Family culture? NBER international seminar on macroeconomics 2005 (pp. 65–109). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Algan, Y., & Cahuc, P. (2010). Inherited trust and growth. American Economic Review, 100(5), 2060–2092.Google Scholar
  14. Algan, Y., Cahuc, P., & Shleifer, A. (2013). Teaching practices and social capital. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(3), 189–210.Google Scholar
  15. Algan, Y., Bisin, A., Manning, A., & Verdier, T. (2012). Cultural Integration of Immigrants in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Antecol, H. (2000). An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates. Labour Economics, 7(4), 409–426.Google Scholar
  17. Benabou, R. (2008). Ideology. Journal of the European Economic Association, 6(2–3), 321–352.Google Scholar
  18. Benabou, R., & Tirole, J. (2006). Belief in a just world and redistributive politics. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121(20), 699–746.Google Scholar
  19. Benabou, R., & Tirole, J. (2016). Mindful economics: The production, consumption, and value of beliefs. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(3), 141–164.Google Scholar
  20. Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2000). Beyond the melting pot: Cultural transmission and dynamics of preferences. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 955–988.Google Scholar
  21. Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2001). The economics of cultural transmission and the evolution of preferences. Journal of Economic Theory, 97(2), 298–319.Google Scholar
  22. Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2010). The economics of cultural transmission and socialization. In J. Benhabib, A. Bisin, & M. O. Jackson (Eds.), Handbook of social economics. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  23. Bisin, A., Topa, G., & Verdier, T. (2004). Cooperation as a transmitted cultural trait. Rationality and Society, 16, 477–507.Google Scholar
  24. Bisin, A., Pattachini, E., Verdier, T., & Zenou, Y. (2011). Formation and persistence of oppositional identities. European Economic Review, 55(8), 1046–1071.Google Scholar
  25. Borjas, G. J. (1992). Ethnic capital and intergenerational mobility. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 107(1), 123–150.Google Scholar
  26. Borjas, G. J. (1995). Ethnicity, neighborhoods, and human-capital externalities. American Economic Review, 85(3), 365–390.Google Scholar
  27. Bowles, S. (1998). Endogenous preferences: The cultural consequences of markets and other economic institutions. Journal of Economic Literature, 36(1), 75–111.Google Scholar
  28. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (1985). Culture and the Evolutionary Process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Boyd, R., & Richerson, P. J. (2005). The origin and evolution of culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., & Feldman, M. W. (1981). Cultural transmission and evolution: A quantitative approach. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. (2001). Genes, peoples, and languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  32. Tella, D., Rafael, G., Sebastian, S., & Schargrodsky, E. (2007). The formation of beliefs: Evidence from the allocation of land titles. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122(1), 209–241.Google Scholar
  33. Desmet, K., Ortuño-Ortín, I., & Wacziarg, R. (2017). Culture, ethnicity, and diversity. American Economic Review, 107(9), 2479–2513.Google Scholar
  34. Desmet, K., & Wacziarg, R. (2018). The cultural divide. No. w24630. National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  35. Doepke, M., & Zilibotti, F. (2008). Occupational choice and the spirit of capitalism. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(2), 747–793.Google Scholar
  36. Doepke, M., & Zilibotti, F. (2017). Parenting with style: Altruism and paternalism in intergenerational preference transmission. Econometrica, 85(5), 1331–1371.Google Scholar
  37. Durante, R. (2009). Risk, cooperation and the economic origins of social trust: an empirical investigation. MPRA Paper No. 25887.Google Scholar
  38. Fehr, E. (2009). On the economics and biology of trust. Journal of the European Economic Association, 7(2–3), 235–266.Google Scholar
  39. Fernandez, R. (2007). Women, work and culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, 5(2–3), 305–332.Google Scholar
  40. Fernandez, R. (2008). Culture and economics. In S. N. Durlauf & L. E. Blume (Eds.), New plagrave dictionary of economics (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  41. Fernandez, R. (2011). Does Culture Matter. In J. Benhabib, M. O. Jackson & A. Bisin (Eds.), Handbook of social economics, 1A, North-Holland, 481–510.Google Scholar
  42. Fernandez, R. (2013). Culture change as learning: The evolution of female labor force participation over a century. American Economic Review, 103(1), 472–500.Google Scholar
  43. Fernandez, R., & Fogli, A. (2006). Fertility: The role of culture and family experience. Journal of the European Economic Association, 4(2–3), 552–561.Google Scholar
  44. Fernandez, R., & Fogli, A. (2009). Culture: An empirical investigation of beliefs, work and fertility. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 1(1), 146–177.Google Scholar
  45. Figlio, D., Giuliano, P., Ozek, U., & Sapienza, P. (2016). Long-term orientation and educational performance. No. w22541. National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  46. Fogli, A., & Veldkamp, L. (2011). Nature or nurture? Learning and the geography of female labor force participation. Econometrica, 79(4), 1103–1138.Google Scholar
  47. Galor, O., & Moav, O. (2002). Natural selection and the origin of economic growth. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), 1133–1191.Google Scholar
  48. Galor, O., & Ozak, O. (2016). The agricultural origins of time preference. American Economic Review, 106(10), 3064–3103.Google Scholar
  49. Giavazzi, F., Schiantarelli, F., & Serafinelli, M. (2013). Culture, policies and labor market outcomes. Journal of the European Economic Association, 11(6), 1256–1289.Google Scholar
  50. Giuliano, P. (2007). Living arrangements in Western Europe: does cultural origin matter? Journal of the European Economic Association, 5(5), 927–952.Google Scholar
  51. Giuliano, P., & Spilimbergo, A. (2014). Growing up in a recession. The Review of Economic Studies, 81(2), 787–817.Google Scholar
  52. Goldin, C. (2006). The quiet revolution that transformed women’s employment, education, and family. American Economic Review, 96(2), 1–21.Google Scholar
  53. Greeley, A. M. (1974). Ethnicity in the United States: A preliminary reconnaissance. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  54. Greenwood, J., & Guner, N. (2010). Social change: The sexual revolution. International Economic Review, 51(4), 893–923.Google Scholar
  55. Gruber, J., & Hungerman, D. M. (2008). The church versus the mall: What happens when religion faces increased secular competition? Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(2), 831–862.Google Scholar
  56. Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2006). Does culture affect economic outcomes? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2), 23–48.Google Scholar
  57. Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2008). Alfred marshall lecture: Social capital as good culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, 6(2–3), 295–320.Google Scholar
  58. Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2016). Long-term persistence. Journal of the European Economic Association, 14(6), 1401–1436.Google Scholar
  59. Hofstede, G., & Minkov, M. (2010). Long-versus short-term orientation: New perspectives. Asia Pacific Business Review, 16(4), 493–504.Google Scholar
  60. Inglehart, R., & Baker, W. E. (2000). Modernization, cultural change, and the persistence of traditional values. American Sociological review, 65(1), 19–51.Google Scholar
  61. Jesus, F.-V., Greenwood, J., & Guner, N. (2014). From shame to game in one hundred years: An economic model of the rise in premarital sex and its de-stigmatization. Journal of the European Economic Association, 12(1), 25–61.Google Scholar
  62. Jones, L. E., & Tertilt, M. (2008). Chapter 5 an economic history of fertility in the United States: 1826?1960. In P. Rupert (Ed.), Frontiers of family economics (pp. 165–230). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.Google Scholar
  63. Konya, I. (2005). Minorities and majorities: A dynamic model of assimilation. Canadian Journal of Economics, 38(4), 1431–1452.Google Scholar
  64. Lazear, E. P. (1999). Culture and language. Journal of Political Economy, 107(6), 95–126.Google Scholar
  65. Luttmer, E. F. P., & Singhal, M. (2011). Culture, context, and the taste for redistribution. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 3(1), 157–79.Google Scholar
  66. Muennig, P., Johnson, G., Kim, J., Smith, T., & Rosen, Z. (2011). The general social survey-national death index: An innovative new dataset for the social sciences. BMC Research Notes, 4, 385.Google Scholar
  67. Panebianco, F. (2014). Socialization networks and the transmission of interethnic attitudes. Journal of Economic Theory, 150, 583–610.Google Scholar
  68. Pichler, M. M. (2010). The economics of cultural formation of preferences. No. 431. Working papers. Institute of Mathematical Economics.Google Scholar
  69. Piketty, T. (1995). Social mobility and redistributive politics. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 110(3), 551–584.Google Scholar
  70. Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making Democracy Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Rice, T. W., & Feldman, J. L. (1997). Civic culture and democracy from Europe to America. The Journal of Politics, 59(4), 1143–1172.Google Scholar
  72. Roland, G. (2004). Understanding institutional change: Fast-moving and slow-moving institutions. Studies in Comparative International Development, 38(4), 109–131.Google Scholar
  73. Tabellini, G. (2008a). Presidential address: Institutions and culture. Journal of the European Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, 6(2–3), 255–294.Google Scholar
  74. Tabellini, G. (2008b). The scope of cooperation: Values and incentives. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(3), 905–950.Google Scholar
  75. Tabellini, G. (2010). Culture and institutions: Economic development in the regions of Europe. Journal of the European Economic Association, 8(4), 677–716.Google Scholar
  76. Vaughan, D. (2013). Nurture versus nurture: Endogenous parental and peer effects and the transmission of culture. (No. 2013-04). Working Papers, Banco de México.Google Scholar
  77. Voigtländer, N., & Voth, H.-J. (2012). Persecution perpetuated: the medieval origins of anti-semitic violence in Nazi Germany. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127(3), 1339–1392.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Igier-Bocconi University, Cepr and NberMilanItaly
  2. 2.Universita’ Bocconi and IGIERMilanItaly
  3. 3.Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  5. 5.Boston College and IZAChestnut HillUSA
  6. 6.Department of EconomicsBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

Personalised recommendations