Until recently, economists have been reluctant to rely on culture as a possible determinant of economic phenomena. Much of this reluctance stems from the very notion of culture: it is so broad and the channels through which it can enter the economic discourse so ubiquitous (and vague) that it is difficult to design testable, refutable hypotheses. In recent years, however, better techniques and more data have made it possible to identify systematic differences in people's preferences and beliefs and to relate them to various measures of cultural legacy. These developments suggest an approach to introducing culturally-based explanations into economics that can be tested and may substantially enrich our understanding of economic phenomena. This paper summarizes this approach and its achievements so far, and outlines directions for future research.
Guiso, Luigi, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales.
"Does Culture Affect Economic Outcomes?"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,