Culture and economics
Culture and economics
The behaviour of people changes, albeit slowly, over the course of time and is very different in different countries. Consider the role of women and their relationship with employment and fertility, or the commitment made to work, the way of responding to the law or respect for the environment. To what extent can economics explain these differences in behaviour and to what extent is it instead necessary to involve something else, namely what we call culture?
gentlemen i'm really happy that you have come so numerous and that we can really start on time i shall endeavor to be brief i will chair this event and then i'll give the floor to our guest raquel fernandez so i will make some brief introductory comments and then after the presentation will have time for a debate which i'm sure will be very interesting let me introduce myself i am stefano sales i am a journalist i'm not an economist i deal with cultural issues for the soleventi cuatro newspaper i'd like to thank the organizers of the festival for offering me the opportunity to deal once and again where issues were indeed are related with the economy but which have a much wider cultural horizon if you are not yet aware of the work by raquel fernandez well she deals with the relationship between cultural attitudes and ways of interpreting one's own life in the society as a whole and the economic outcomes well these two elements are not so distant as they might appear at first sight these are elements which are very difficult to quantify the present and recent economic theories are making an attempt to better understand the impact of wage production while at the same time neglecting what is known as social capital which comes before production activities i.e what are the cultural attitudes which bring about culture raquel fernandez she's a professor at the new york university she was a lecturer in other universities she carried out studies concerning the role of women in the production of income and capitals and their impact on their role in societies she will present us with a set of slides concerning uh women at work this is a key issue for a society if a society because of its customs teams that women should not work they have a very uh limited uh view of the world compared with countries where women work and the same goes for the attitude to marry a woman who work and the dire relationship between those who are children of a woman who used to work that increases the likelihood that they marry working women now the floor to raquel fernandez for her presentation and so culture and economics are two very wild fields and we'll try to understand the differences the similarities and the relationship between the two such an excellent conference i don't think anywhere in the world have i seen three days in a city and certainly not a city as marvelous as trento to economics and it's quite fabulous okay so uh stefano already give you some of the flavor of what i'm going to be talking about and let me start by saying that economics has become central to modern life indeed in the analysis of social problems economic thinking with which places its emphasis on the structure of incentives plays a starring role despite being an economist myself i think that it's not too modest to claim that the 20th century can be thought of as the century of the triumph of economics and the triumph of this field and the success of its methodology has gradually spread into all the social sciences raising cries of imperialism and fears of being taken over by crude economists from the subjects of crime to law to marriage infertility to addiction to civil wars ethnic identity educational reform the structure of government the formation of political parties there are few of any topics that economists have not taken on and to paraphrase a now dead and not very popular politician we are all economists now now the success of the economics methodology has been in large part due to the rigor and simplicity provided by its basic premises it's based on taking the preferences the taste and the social beliefs of economic men as giving and facing this economic man or woman with the incentives provided by her environment but where do these social beliefs and these preferences come from we economists may believe along with the ancient greeks that man is a social animal but do we need to take into account account man's social nature in order to understand and to think about social and economic questions this is the issue with which i would like to talk about today by thinking about the effect of culture on economic outcomes if social preferences and social beliefs vary across societies and if they are at least in part socially constructed and if this variation and beliefs and preferences affect economic outcomes then this is a challenge that we economists must face and think about deeply and also hopefully contribute to thinking about and contribute to understanding culture as well so i'm forgetting about my slides okay so that's the first one so let me outline a little bit what i'm going to talk about okay so the first is going to continue along the line of thought i've been setting out now which is talk about why does culture pose a challenge to economics and also what can economics contribute to understanding of culture and in that second line of what economists can contribute to understanding culture i'm going to be talking about in particular work of my own which uh follows what i called the epidemiological approach and thinking about women's participation in the formal labor market and in the end i'm going to conclude which uh some areas that i think are future challenges both for people who are concerned about economics and those who are concerned about culture okay so uh you might ask what is culture and very often in some lectures you might face you know many many slides on defining culture um for what i'm worried about today you can think about it as a body of share a body of shared knowledge understanding and practice and that's very vague far too vague to be useful someone did a recent count and in recent journals i forget how many years maybe the last 10 20 years there's over 170 definitions of culture written down so i'm not going to try to contribute another one for our purposes today we can think about differences in culture a systematic variation in social beliefs and preferences across time space or across social groups and i would like you to note from the outset that there's nothing in this definition that thinks of culture as necessarily static nor irrational okay so let's go on to talk about how economists think about things now when economists are faced with variation in aggregate outcomes think about different savings rates across countries okay why do the japanese save more than the americans say they they they think about explaining this variation in aggregate outcomes we have variation in economic uh in in institutions in policies and in technology the same thing across individuals if we think about why groups of individuals do different things then again we either want to look at differences in their environment or look at differences in their endowments for example how educated they are okay in this type of exercise which is the type of exercise that economists excel at we take the distribution of agents preferences and social belief that is their culture as given and invariant to the environment now one thing that economists don't consider as being possible as a possible explanation is that this might be explained by differences in preferences and beliefs that these variations and outcomes may be explained by differences in culture why not well i i think it's very well summarized in a very famous article by stigler and becker uh the gustavus known as sputandum and since i'm faced with italians you all speak latin this is about taste we do not argue we do not fight now what what's the problem with saying okay the differences in outcomes they can be explained by differences in tastes what's wrong with that well the problem is from a theoretical perspective it's very um it has no rigor i mean we can't observe tastes we can't observe beliefs so to say that somebody does you know that japan saves more than the united states because they have a different attitudes towards thrift towards savings is really not providing any explanation at all okay the empirical counterpart so that's as a theoretical exercise but the empirical counterpart of this which is to try to explain again differences in savings between japan and the united states as a result of policies technologies institutions different education levels etc and then call the part that you cannot explain culture that is what we as economists would call the residual the residual that thing that we can't measure is culture that's equally unsatisfying i mean yeah maybe it's culture but maybe you just didn't measure things properly so that's that's very unsatisfactory to any economist economists tend to be rigorous and consequently economists have tended to ignore culture throughout the decades okay there's another problem with uh thinking about cultural explanations which i won't go into that much today but which is really that it's very difficult to conduct welfare analysis if we take preferences as endogenous so econo when economists try to make policy prescriptions okay like uh what should the tax rate be or you know how should we you know fund social security they're trying to they think about you know the preferences of an individual is given and they say let's try to maximize the happiness of these people but as they take their get their taste is given and try to maximize what makes them happy well if the taste varies according to the environment according to the culture and if this changes over time so that when you change institutions when you change the tax rates when you change customs it also changes preferences then that exercise is kind of useless i mean we don't know what to do with it so it's a very big challenge theoretically as well for economists and that explains part of their reluctance still overall i would say that the main obstacle um still i would say that the main obstacle uh to incorporating culture and economic analysis has really been the absence of serious empirical work that shows that culture matters to economic outcomes not to what you eat nobody everybody understands japanese eats sushi the italians eat pasta but economic outcomes okay and in particular as i've tried to explain we can't rely on differences in what groups of people do they could be doing it for many reasons nor can we rely on survey evidence on attitudes expressed in surveys because people have a tendency to say that they do what they do because they think it's a good idea to do it so to say that people people who work uh tend to work because they like to work well that's not clear they also tend to say they like to work because they work for example so there's uh what we call an endogenicity problem in that type of issue which means we can't just take attitudes as evidence of anything it's interesting it's a clue but it's not evidence it's not rigorous for an economy for an economist so the main challenge that economics has faced throughout the decades for thinking about culture is how do we separate differences in beliefs and and preferences from differences in the overall environments from differences in institutions or from differences in individual endowments for example education okay so only recently i would say that economists have started to take on this problem seriously and there are several people in this room who have contributed to this work i'm not going i'm just going to be concentrating uh for now on work that i've done recently actually with several italian co-authors that looks at women work and culture as a topic and tries to think about the influence of culture on women's relationship to the to the job market okay um you could ask well why women why women and work and culture okay i would like to at least justify that uh that that choice one is because it's a key economic outcome whether women work or not whether they're staying at home or not whether how many kids are having those are all things that matter tremendously to an economy so this is definitely any an economic outcome that's of concern to economists and to others why women in particular i think women in particular have borne the brunt of culture that is over time there is no doubt that we have seen gigantic differences over what women do and how society and the way society expresses itself towards women that is what it believes that women should be doing has changed over time so i think that they're a good uh subject of analysis okay next page so to to start out with just some pictures to give you some motivation um this is i'm sorry it's in english it's married women who participate in the labor force in the united states these are women who are between the ages of 25 to 44 they're white they're married they don't work in agriculture they don't live on farms in 1880 around two percent of these women were were working okay and over time as you can see in this graph this percentage increased from two percent to about 74 in the year 2000 and as you can see it's been a long uh inc long time increase uh over 120 years or so uh i can also show you just again here just so you can place maybe italy italy is a very interesting exception this is 1960 to 1995. sweden united states uk germany france netherlands and as you can see all of these are increasing over time and interestingly uh italy is a little bit stuck but so that's an interesting exception it'd be interesting to think a little bit about why that might be true so if you were to ask a traditional economist why is it that women's role has changed throughout time take whichever these pictures you most like except for the italian one okay why why is it that women's role has changed over time the favorite answer an economist is going to give you the instinctive one is technology and there's many aspects of technology that have undoubtedly changed and undoubtedly helped to change women's role so the favorite ones are household appliances the washing machine the vacuum cleaner economists talk about household appliances liberating the women from the drudgery of the household there's things like infant formula okay that's the you know they that now you don't have to breastfeed your child necessarily you can give them in from formula you can go back to work there's modern contraception which allows women to control their fertility much more and invest in careers so different forms of technology have been thought of as throughout time allowing women to work more there's also structural change but that's also a form of technology there's the decreased importance of brawn a physical strength and the increased importance of brain and women have a relative advantage in brain over brawn and therefore they go and work more okay where what about changes in attitudes or changes in culture and all this where are these things could that be a possible explanation i'm sure if i asked most people i think in this room certainly off the street they would say yes culture is really important yes there's been really important changes in attitudes and that matters but that's not what economists talk about so here's some very indirect evidence if you need any that attitudes have changed this is uh a poll that's been asking the question do you approve of a wife working if her husband can support her now this is a question that's been asked in various forms from 1936 to the year almost 2000 with some big interruption though around the world war periods okay so as you can see in 1936 less than 20 percent of society approved of a married woman working if her husband was able to support her by the year 2000 the situation is completely reversed less than 20 percent disapprove of a woman working if her husband can support her you can see there's been a gigantic changes in attitudes now again as i said for the same reasons as before showing that attitudes have changed while interesting while indicative of something does not prove anything by itself attitudes change but so what it could be i think here it's a little bit ironic but economists tend to be as you know rather conservative but here they act like primitive marxists i think that your typical economist would believe yes believe leads might have changed attitudes might have changed but these attitudes just reflect the important parts of the economy that technology somehow when the technology changes preferences change beliefs change so it's not that these beliefs actually cause women to work more rather technology causes women to work more and these beliefs just change along with them okay uh maybe a little bit more of an idea that beliefs might matter was given in some previous work i did with two italian uh co-authors alessandra foley and claudio olivetti now what we did was to um show that men whose mothers worked while they were growing up tended to be married to women who also worked okay and we call this marrying your mother okay but a little bit incestuous but yes uh now we you know we made sure this was not driven by education by wealth by the region of the country that we're living in by any socio-economic factors this this was a very strong relationship in the data in fact the quantitative impact was really huge the effect of having a mother who worked increased the probability that your own wife was going to work for a man by 32 percentage points so the average person was working 39 percent if you're if your husband's mother worked you the probability that you worked increased to 71 and we argued that there was some evidence therefore of a preference or belief transmission we also um looked at some dynamic evidence of our theory provided by things that happened during world war ii so in the united states during world war ii there was different uh percentages of men who were mobilized who were drafted who were sent to fight in those states where more men were sent to fight more women stepped into the labor force and more therefore more women worked because the men were gone somebody had to do the work so in those states there were more men brought up by working women and according to the theory that we had exposed it at that moment we said it was going to be more attractive also for married women to work in those states and in particular what we would tend to see is that more women overall would work in those states because they would know that there's more men around there who support them working they would invest more in market skills and they would work more when they were older and indeed when we looked at the empirical evidence we found that this correlation held that is in those states in which more men had gone to war and consequently more women brought up boys okay and they were working then and for those cohorts of people those cohorts of boys and those cohorts of girls the women tended to work more in those straights and we showed this is not true for earlier cohorts okay uh i'm just going to give you one more piece of evidence which i'm sure you're very familiar work with which is to say that simply contemporaneously these large differences continue to exist so the slide that you're seeing in front of you right now shows female labor force participation in the year 2003 for oecd countries and as you can see it varies from a low of about 20 something percent from turkey and italy is right down there right after mexico uh to a high of over 80 percent for iceland and sweden over 70 percent okay so there's tremendous variation in the data and the question is is this variation that we see in the data is that driven by things that vary in the countries technologies institutions policies is it driven by endowments of individuals by how educated people are in turkey relative to norway or to iceland or is it also i'm not exclaiming exclusivity is it also driven by culture by beliefs about the role of women okay so that's what i would like to address today so to address this question i'm going to follow what i've called the epidemiological approach so what epidemiologists do is when they want to study outcomes like why is it that in japan there are lower rates of heart disease than say in the united states i don't know where italy lies and all this okay why is it that they suffer less heart attacks in japan the men than in the united states is it genetics or is it um you know is is it the environment is it something about living in japan okay the food they eat the air they breathe the type of microbes that exist etc well when they want to study something like that one way that they can do it is they can look at immigrants japanese immigrants say in the united states and look at whether the heart disease for immigrants or the sons and daughters of immigrants in the united states of japanese ones converges to the heart disease of men and women in the united states if they do converge if they end up having basically the same rate of heart disease then we can be pretty sure it's not genetics that's driving it okay because now they look like u.s people so then we can conclude its environment if there is not convergence then one's not sure what it is you know it could be genetics but maybe it could be you know still something like uh cultural things like what you eat maybe the diet of japanese and the descendants of japanese united states is different from that of americans okay so in one case you can conclude something in another case you're not sure okay so this is the epidemiological approach follow for uh for health questions i'm going to be applying this type of approach to study culture and its effects on economics so um here one can ask are cross-country differences in economic outcomes for example again let's say savings rate or the amount women work are they driven by economic institutional factors or does culture play a quantitative role so it's no longer genetics but culture versus economics and institutional factors now here you face a whole different set of problems that you do for health outcomes the behavior of immigrants for example may be differentially affected by shocks by language difficulties by employment there's assimilation that occurs over time so even if culture is really important to understand why turks do what they do in turkey and why norwegians do what they do in norway it may not really help to understand what they do in the united states because now they become like u.s people there's selection that's very important the typical italian that has immigrated the the italian that's immigrated to the united states is not necessarily the typical italian this may not be the person who represents the culture of italy so they may have a whole different set of beliefs okay in fact uh the very first paper that used what i've called the epidemiological approach to study culture and economics was a paper by calorie enrique and they study the savings behavior of immigrants to canada and indeed they found no significant effect of culture that is it was not true for example that asian immigrants to canada saved at any different rate than other immigrants okay so there seemed to be culture doesn't matter now what sorry what i do with alessandra foley in a series of papers is to examine what i would argue as a less problematic sample we look at second generation americans to be clear second generation americans are people whose parents were born outside the united states but who themselves were born in the united states so their parents may be italian turkish polish but they themselves were born and raised in the u.s what's good about this group well you would think that shocks and unobserved economic factors are less important but the problems of cultural assimilation is remains and gets exacerbated they may be even more assimilated so that's a bit problematic and the basic idea here is a very simple one women who were born in the united states with foreign-born parents they face the same market prices it's safe to face the same institutions by construction they're all living in the united states they went to school in the united states they were born and raised there okay but because of their parents heritage they may have different beliefs and may have different preferences about women's role about ideal family size about a whole host of issues what we're going to do is to study the behavior of these women these second generation women and we're going to be using as our cultural variable proxy i've used before but variable the level of female labor force participation in the parents country of origin okay so let me be clear about this when i say we're going to be using the female the level of uh female labor force participation in the country of origin let's think about what that's influenced by okay so we're looking at how much women work say in italy that's influenced by economic and institutional factors so their wages what's the probability that they're going to find a job the location of their job relative to their house their husband's income the cost of daycare the quality of daycare many economic institutional factors it's also influenced by cultural factors that is one's own beliefs and preferences about working versus not working how you will be treated if you work versus not worked by your friends by your families by the neighbors it's influenced by perhaps by how the media portrays working women etc by changing the country in which these women are in that is by not looking at italians in italy versus norwegians in norway but by looking at american women in the united states who have different heritages i can be sure that we have the same economic variables the same institutional variables the same policy variables and the only thing that could be different across these women is their culture what their parents have talked to them about okay what their parents have transmitted okay i want to be very clear there's many this is a very asymmetrically powerful test there are many reasons why female labor force participation may not have explanatory value even if culture matters we've talked about assimilation already there's a usual reason that female labor force participation may be mismeasured there's a selection argument that we've talked about previously may not be the typical woman who's here sorry the immigrant may not be the typical person and most importantly culture is socially constructed and the social incentives may be different that is the rewards and punishment to acting one way relative to another way may be very different thus let me just say from the outset if if in our work we had found no role for culture we would not have concluded that culture is not important there's just too many reasons for this test to fail on the other hand if we do find that female labor force participation is able to explain what women do then we i have to say that culture has passed a very demanding test okay um the big challenge that this works faces and that's been faced with you know various degrees of success by different works is that there also exists economic channels of inter-general intergenerational transmission parents do not just transmit beliefs to their children unfortunately they also transmit other things that we worry about as economists they might transmit education they may transmit wealth they may transmit ability so the big question for an economist who's interested in studying this and therefore has very uh demanding levels of ricker to pass is have we adequately controlled for differences in economic variables so let me tell you what we did we looked at as i said second generation women in the united states using the 1970 census just because of technical reasons we looked at married women that's where the action is in terms of working versus not working they're 30 to 40 years old and they're not in agriculture okay so the first question we have to face is from what decades should we use the female labor force participation in the parents country of origin and you can make arguments from using anywhere from 1930 to 1970. note these are women who are 30 to 40 years old in 1970 in the us consequently their parents who were born outside the united states could not have come to the united states any later than 1930 or 1940. so one might want to use 1930 1940 variables those are not available so you know for for uh for data reasons we use 1950 we also show that it's robust to other decades um we exclude a whole group of questions of a country sorry from the ussr and from centrally planned economies because they had very large changes in their economy and in their culture but the parents were not there when this happened our final sample is 6 700 women from 25 countries this is a representative sample in the united states these women were working on average 10 hours per week okay 10 hours per week in 1970 they had about three kids okay the labor force participation of women in countries in 1950 is on average about 24 and women were having um between about three and a half kids at that point let me show you the sample because it's really important that you get an idea of the countries that are involved so if you look at that graph over there on the x-axis you'll see female labor force participation in 1950 and on the y-axis you see how many hours women worked per week in 1970 if their father was born in these countries okay and if i was standing there at point but as you can see most of these countries are european italy is lost in that big thing in the middle over there that cluster of countries but you know you have italy norway switzerland denmark germany austria finland etc you also have china japan and turkey you have some latin american countries cuba and mexico you also have some middle eastern countries such as lebanon and syria okay so that's the sample 6700 women from 25 countries okay um what we did was we sorry let me go back uh what we did was to basically document that this relationship which probably should have a regression line exists that is there's a positive correlation between how much women worked in 1950 in their father's country of ancestry and how much these women are working today in the united working today working in 1970 in the united states now we documented this in a variety of ways one of the most important things for us to do was to control for a woman's level of education so we can we include it and education is an explanatory variable why is it important to do this it's important to do this because if you don't it could all be driven by levels of education and it could just be that women from country from that come whose parents come from countries where women tend to work more are also richer more educated their child tends to be more educated and it's harder for more educated women not to work why because their wages are higher so they lose more by not going to work okay than for a woman whose wages are lower so we wanted to make sure that was true so we controlled for education we also controlled for the education of their husband and for the income of their husband the relationship instead of becoming stronger became weaker the quantitative effect was very large in particular for the average woman in the sample that is for the women whose education is average who's married to the average man a man with an average education with average income that woman if she has parents who come from lebanon rather than if she have come parents who come from uh finland is going to work 22 percent less this is a large quantitative effect in economics okay it's one-fifth of the hours so that was our finding uh what we were mainly concerned about was to make sure and to demonstrate strictly to economists and to ourselves that there was not some what i would call a strictly economic variable that's able to explain these facts okay so our main source of concern was unobserved human capital think of education but more education more generally unobserved human capital embodied either in the woman herself or in her ethnic network since we know that your social networks also matter to the probability with which you find a job or to the quality of a job she finds so one thing's i'm just going to run you very quickly through a few exercises one of the things that you could do is to include what the per capita income was in 1950 in the parents country of ancestry and ask maybe this is really explaining it it's not anything else it's just that you haven't measured human capital correctly because although you've controlled for the years of education of the woman maybe her parents have taught her things that you are not capturing in years of education so let me show you very quickly that's certainly not going to be a potential explanation this is again sorry the x-axis here is the 1950 gross domestic product per capita and again on the y-axis we have how many hours women were working in the united states if their parents came from this country and as i think the relationship is fairly clear it's a negative one so there's no way that this is going to be able to explain why it is that women work more if in the past women worked more in their father's country of ancestry um another sorry another explanation is uh it could be the years of education of their parents so we used another data set that was and we showed that that wasn't true now this was a much smaller data set so you can another way you could do this is you can go to the 1940 census in the united states and try to find out how many years of education immigrants to united states had in 1940 as we said before these are not a representative sample necessarily so uh we did that and let me just show you this is on the x-axis how many years of education uh mothers and or men and women from these different countries that you see on this graph had on average okay and as you can see now there is a positive relationship so it does appear that if your parents came from countries so sorry if your parents came from groups from countries where immigrants tend to have higher education that might help to explain how much you worked yourself in the united states and this does indeed have explanatory power but not once you include uh female labor force participation in the parents country ancestry that is if i i can't show you i'm not going to show you a regression but if if you were putting in both explanatory variables uh years of education and female labor force participation in 1950 only female labor force participation in 1950 would have explanatory power for that okay um actually let me just go back um there's um there's other possibilities i think the most direct test that we did was to look at wages directly so in economics what one thing that we do is we do things called wage regressions which we look at can how can we explain wages and usually we explain wages with your age your education things like that your sex etc you can do these type of regressions and ask does how much women worked in your parents country of ancestry does that help to explain wages if it did it would be very problematic for us because if it helps to explain wages there might be some element of human capital that we're not capturing and indeed the answer is no female labor force participation does not help to explain wages so we were pretty satisfied with the robustness and the strength of our explanatory variable okay um the last few slides i'm going to show you uh before i turn over the floor to questions has to do with a similar work that i did but this time on attitudes i also use again what i call an epidemiological approach that is i'm looking at the same type of sample that you saw here except i'm just going to look at europeans in this case and what i can make use of is that in 1990 the world value survey asked two questions to individuals uh and this is a representative survey that had to do with their attitudes toward women and women's work so question number one was is being a housewife is just as fulfilling as working for pay and you were asked that you strongly agree agree disagree or strongly disagree with this question and again number two having a job is the best way for a woman to be an independent person and again strong agree agree uh disagree and strongly disagree with this question what i do is i look at the average attitude that is the percentage of people who agree or strongly agree with the statement in the country of ancestry in 1990 and i asked the epidemiological question which is does this percentage help explain the work behavior in the united states in 1970 now the surveys in 1990 these are women 1970. i'm asking germans italians french and i'm asking does what they answer helped to predict what women in 1970 did in the united states not in germany not in france not in italy but in the united states in 1970 okay so that's the epidemiological structure and here you can see the results on the x-axis is the percentage of individuals who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement being a housewife is as fulfilling as working for pay as you can see there is some countries where people's the percentage is relatively high that strongly disagreed in 1990 so about 50 for portugal germany norway uh even italy is fairly high it's between 40 and 45 percent and down there the people who are really disagreeing with this uh the people who less tend to disagree so there's only 25 percent or so of people who disagree for turkey and for ireland for example and again you can see there's a strong positive relationship this is again you control you can control for the women's education for her husband's education for her husband's income what people answer in 1990 helps to predict what they do countries that are more conservative they have women who in who although born in the united states and although it's the year is 1970 in this country they tend to in the united states they tend to work less if they're less conservative that is more likely to disagree with this statement then they tend to work more very similar pattern is found for the question the job is the best way for women to be independent again you know if you uh now i have the percentage who agreed or strongly agreed in 1990 on the x-axis as you see it's a bit different than before now a lot of more people are agreeing that the job is the best way for women to be independent but again the people who most think this is true that where the percentages are high again denmark portugal france sweden norway again italy is somewhere in the middle and then the outliers are kind of england netherlands ireland okay and again on the x-axis sorry on the y-axis you see the average hours worked in per week in the united states in 1970 and again there's a very strong positive correlation if you for women if you if your parent if your father was born in a country where where people tend to say a job is the best way for women to be independent you are more likely to work more in the united states in 1970 than if your father is born in a country where people do not uh express that point of view so culture does seem to be transmitted at least intergenerationally i'm going to show you two more pieces of evidence one just uh one's just out of interest i think uh and the other one is should give you some more evidence that this is culture at work and then i'm going to open the floor one is um one question one can ask since we're looking at married people here is whether it's the woman's ancestry that matters to her work behavior or is it her husband's ancestry to study this we look at those couples in our large sample okay the sample of six thousand seven hundred women from 25 countries who have mixed ancestry that is their father was born in one country but their husband's father was born in another country what we found was quite interesting we did it's this for fertility outcomes and for work we found that for work outcomes if anything the man seems to be more important than the woman that is where his father was born that is how much women worked in his father's country of ancestry rather than in her father's country of ancestry seems to be the stronger explanatory variable for fertility things are not like that for fertility both seem to be equally important and that seems like a very interesting asymmetry and would be interesting to explore in the future the last thing that we did to sort of convince ourselves that this might be culture that we're picking up rather than something else was to ask whether there's a role other than your parents in transmitting culture and in particular does the neighborhood that you live in matter at all so what we did was to rely on data uh by borjas who's a prominent uh researcher in this in the area of immigration and what he did was to look at ethnic by what i'm going to call ethnic neighborhood density data that is these are measures of residential segregation for second generation americans let me say this in plain english or hopefully if she translates in plain italian okay what i'm doing is what we're looking at is if you take an italian who's living in a neighborhood in the united states on average how what percentage of the neighborhood is also italian okay there are some ethnicities in particular italians who do tend to live together and there are some activities that don't tend to live together you would think that this if culture matters the role of culture would be more strong when you tend to live with people who are like you than when you tend to live with people who are from all sorts of beliefs and all sorts of nationalities so in particular if you take the countries that most tend to live together as you can see there are mexico 18 percent so you take a mexican that mexican tends to be living in a neighborhood which is also 18 generation mexican japanese also tend to live together 12 italians as well the low ones are turkey france and lebanon okay they're all about three of 0.3 okay and what we asked is is the effect of the cultural variable that is female labor force participation increasing and your tendency to live with people like yourself and the answer to this was a definitive yes and again it made us more confident that indeed we're picking up culture okay i think that this methodology of looking at immigrants and their descendants is very useful one for studying um culture and a whole ah a whole list of uh other questions that one might be interested in economics from altruism to trust to you know how much how hard say men work across different countries to careers education fertility environmental practices attitudes towards redistribution you know do we believe it's luck or do we believe it's effort all sorts of things that really do matter to how we express ourselves in the workplace how we express ourselves when we vote for politicians things that matter to economic outcomes i think it'd be profitable it could be profitably applied um i also think that uh i've talked a lot at the beginning about the challenges that culture places for economics and it is indeed a challenge as i said one was empirical how do we ever manage to do it and there's been a whole group of economists recently who have been trying to show that culture does matter but also as i said how do we do policy let me end up by stressing the positive things about economics and culture i mean i think economics is and discipline that can help us think rigorously and quantitatively about a whole host of questions in culture that before have not really been able to be thought about in these terms in particular we can try to quantify and think about the importance of the difference transmission channels how important are parents relative to neighborhoods to schools to to whom you marry is the cultural transmission optimizing that is some of you heard alberto vizin the other day he does believe that it's optimizing that his parents are choosing to give a cultural identity to their children and or is it involuntary is it just that you know you just can't help transmit a certain attitude whether you like it or not whether it's useful or not how does culture interact with institutions how do institutions affect cultural change you know maybe because of a certain economic uh let's call them accidents the united states ended up with slavery that's an institution that institution may have consequences for people cultural attitudes that is it may help make people racist where without that institution they wouldn't become racist so very different differences in geography difference in endowment difference in historical let's call them accidents want of a better word can end up having profound uh influences later on um and then when does you know the last one is when does culture change rapidly when does it change gradually you know and here i think definitely technology plays a very important role but i think we also want to think about if technology is endogenous and responding to cultural demands to respond you know the contraceptive the pill did not happen by accident it was desired the vacuum cleaner may not have happened by accident maybe it was desired because women wanted to go out and work okay thank you uh i'd like to get the floor to the audience are there any questions any comments from the floor it is clear that the uh well culture and economy are closely related as it is clear in some macro phenomena are there any questions or comments from the floor so i'll ask the first question to break the eyes that refers to the final comments you made the culture changes rapidly or glacially so have you realized during your research whether rather um are you aware of the time necessary for a community of persons and not only of migrants so how much it takes for them to be aware that a cultural change has happened and what are the reasons uh why this cultural change is realized by the community um when it comes to music right okay you know we don't listen to necessarily to the same music as our parents do now um i think that culture has been changing extremely rapidly and i do think here economics has had a profound effect now and i think that the effect comes not necessarily from technology but from the effect of competition so i think that the fact that globalization has occurred and become more profound makes countries have to shift their practices not necessarily to better or worse practices i'm not going to take a normative view here necessarily but they have to change their practices in order to compete so you know it might be very nice to say let's have a society in which we all work uh 30 hours a week but it might be very difficult to institute that and to pay that when there's other societies in which people are working much harder so it's it's not necessarily a question as i said of optimality it's just a question of competitiveness and how one deals with that i also think that um this is to echo danielle cohen's talk from the first day on technology and the post-industrial society the television is having a profound profound effect and one thing that he remarked upon is that even in rural areas even in areas where the economy has not changed in the slightest women when they watch tv they see a different way of life in front of them a life with one or two kids where women are much freer to do what they want and fertility has changed in these groups of people so we're seeing that even in countries and areas which had not yet undergone the demographic transition fertility has fallen rapidly and it would be very interesting to study this more rigorously yeah what about the influence of the economy on culture um i am an entrepreneur and i must say that there was not very much culture in the economy all times i tried to add culture to economy i made more profits if you know what i mean so this is it maybe i didn't make myself clear for example the knowledge of a city working in milan a city which changed very rapidly over 10 years where they changed their economic structure a lot of changes and development in the different neighborhoods in the area of bovisa where the technical university is and the value of real estate went up houses were very cheap uh many years ago uh and now those who had forecast that because of the fictional university real estate could be uh had a much more higher value well they gained they made a lot of profits now i'm not saying that one should exploit culture to make profits but being knowledgeable i mean is useful i mean i i'm not only referring to prophets i think that if you work under the influence of culture you work better and in a much more beautiful way i mean i think that's uh a challenge for economics still that is to see how much the surroundings in which individuals are uh affects for example like you say their productivity okay their their ability to be creative for example and this is something that certainly at the level of the firms is being realized i mean you read articles in the newspapers about the type of work environment that people have in google or in microsoft and you you know they have these creativity hours and they get to do paintings and they have you know all sorts of wonderful things that we don't have in the university um and you know you're quite envious because in some in some arenas particularly arenas in which there's a lot of rapid innovation going on there seems to be very much of an appreciation for the effect that having a stimulating work environment a work environment that's not routine and and dull might have on individuals i'm not sure if i completely answered your question but this side this is i think it's something that's being faced by the cutting edge level of entrepreneurs but not yet by civil servants by university professors uh let alone by janitors phenomenal integrated i i've been dreading a policy question i have to confess uh because i think it's quite premature in many senses to start talking about what's optimal and what our knowledge of culture and how it affects economic outcomes how it should be used to change immigrant flows change residential policies for example not allow people to live in the same area they you know and rather integrate them into society i'm not yet ready and i don't think the economics profession is yet ready to make those pronouncements because the study of these issues is truly truly in its infancy uh that said i think that that's where the interesting questions do lie uh and i hope that you're going to take some of these on in your dissertation because you know it really it is a question not so much about i think restricting migrant flows because migrant flows have been boons to so many economies the united states uh onwards okay it's been so positive for so many countries the question has really been when faced with the problems of the 24 or the early 21st century problems which are very different type of problems that were faced at the beginning of the 20th century when there's great competition for jobs and there's a lot of job insecurity how do we deal with immigration how do we integrate people if that is the right thing to do uh and i i i think i i'm i'm we're just not really ready to to pronounce something here is the metropolitan city which is now going through a change that has been experienced by other big cities that is due to strong migration flows there is a lively debate as to whether it is better to go for a multicultural model or for a cultural integration model and at the moment there is some criticism towards both models the english multicultural one and the french one multicultural integration and the failure of both models is clear so you rightly told us that economists are unable at the moment to provide us with a description of what is best but in terms of public policy this topic is a highly debated one so i would like to be provocative and ask you do you think that in terms of interaction between institutions and cultures do you believe that institutions should interact in a different way depending on the reference culture of each individual say the culture of the migration nucleus is my question clear enough i mean i'm happy economic science so uh your questions really have to do with how you know how we should be interacting with the fact that there is many cultures living in the same area one would be well just let them be okay less affair the other possibilities you're saying is you know to to if you want to try to integrate then one can try to integrate this i mean for this i do think that residential policies tremendously matter okay so i do think that one would like to have especially when it comes to low-income housing not and and this is true not just for immigrants this is just true for uh poor segments of society in general it's not a very good idea to have only poor people living with poor people society fares much better uh i think there's studies that show that there's much more intergenerational mobility when poor people live with middle class people okay there's many more peer effects there's many more positive examples there's many more social networks that get formed uh so i would believe that would be true at the immigrant case although i don't really know the evidence for this question uh then there's all sorts of other things about institutions i mean you know i don't know what the state of the debate right now currently is in italy we respect to say such hot issues as uh the veil uh letting muslim women wear the veil in schools my own attitude would be of course i should be able to why not i mean you know this is not something that as an economist we would say produces by itself any negative effects if one said well women couldn't go to school or women couldn't study x or women can't do sports if they come from certain religions that would be something that's tremendously bothersome but things that are symbolic every culture i think should be left its own symbols even if you like them or not uh let them change on their own but this is not economic science a um i do not study economics i work in the sector of sciences food sciences and agriculture and i have a comment rather than a question but is my family lives in canada and i'm here in italy i was born in italy and i live here in trento and i believe that italy and canada tackle the issue of immigration in a totally different way i frequently go back to canada i've attended university there and i can see that in italy where i work now but it was very difficult for me to find a job well in italy for a woman i mean if you're a woman if you're young you have 10 times more problems and difficulties than a man and we should be ashamed of this i believe our politicians should be ashamed of this i mean if you're young you're young you know nothing and they ask you to do anything um things that do not improve your professionalism that are not gratifying then do not allow you to grow and to become enriched from a professional viewpoint moreover if you're a woman that's it you're out you're half crucified if you're a woman no we're not gonna employ you because you're gonna get pregnant soon you would just be a cost and this problem is an italian problem conversely abroad i was very young and they gave me many more chances and i had a totally different relationship also also immigrants were viewed in a totally different way immigrants are very origin not only italian ones like myself but also muslims indians independent of their religion and their country of origin so in italy very often there is a discrimination if you come from a country from the east so you say your value is not properly recognized so i can see a political correlation regarding the way how immigration is managed and how institutions are managed right and this is not a question it is just a comment that i wanted to make the observation of a person who moves backwards and forwards between italy and canada yes well i would like to add a question for professor fernandez do you believe that in some cases governments do impose things on society and oblige for instance uh the society to protect women at work and stating for instance certain wage levels which due to cultural reasons may not be accepted sure we lobbied into doing something because i mean sometimes i should do something more let's pretend that we lobbied them to obtain an act so that we can have a higher percentage of women in politics or equal career opportunities i mean when you realize from a cultural viewpoint that this would be useful but it is difficult to implement it do you think that we should request the next from our governments a lot of women like you who lived in canada and had one sort of experience came to italy have another source of experience that would be a wonderful way to test also the importance of culture and in a very different way than the one i've done because what i did was to say we keep the institutions the same and we just look at your beliefs as expressed in your outcomes but you could actually see the full importance of culture because culture also has an impact on the institutions if you have a male chauvinist culture you're much more likely to have male chauvinist institutions you're much like less likely to impose anti-discrimination laws and even if you have anti-discrimination laws you're much less likely to enforce them so you know it's the i want to use your comment as an opportunity to make sure that it was very clear that what i did gives uh a minimum sense of the quan of the importance the quantitative importance of culture because i didn't allow institutions to change i didn't allow the italian woman to be faced with sexist institutions in italy no she was faced with the same institutions as her norwegian counterpart in the united states so i would i would love to have a whole sample of women who lived and worked in two different countries because then you would be able to keep the women constant but change the institutions that they were uh subjected to um now um the question should we lobby our our are to change our institutions to be lobby to change our governments well that's the point of living in a democracy which should indeed lobby you know to to uh to have our politicians reflect our preferences and social desires and uh often that's very difficult and very costly and even large segments of society might might oppose it i can speak at least with a little bit of knowledge of the united states where this has been true but for women and for blacks okay where it's been intense lobbying and intense social movements that have helped change government and institutions even perhaps when before a large segment of society was ready to do this it's not at all clear that the united states was or is ready to accept full integration with say blacks in the united states yet at least laws require it and there is some enforcements of these laws now how one does this is this a good idea to put quotas on well i don't know we've seen a lot of disastrous outcomes in the united states when we've had things like affirmative action we've also seen good things so it maybe it depends on the stage at with these at which they are imposed maybe having affirmative action for the number of university professors who are female is not a very good idea maybe having affirmative action for the number of students who are encouraged to study uh physics and chemistry uh who are women who will study those things is a good idea so i think one has to think very carefully about the structure of incentives and i think that's kind of what economists would be good at thinking about and thinking about the consequences of this but go ahead and lobby i'm all i'm all for that traditionally no i must be quite honest and say that what i've studied so far is attitude is women's work and fertility outcomes and you can say that in some sense people are losing from an economic point of view because of their attitudes because you know if they work less they earn less they have less opportunities to educate their children there's a whole series of consequences that come from this but in terms of some say natural experiment that has been provided by society in which for some reason some uh behavior was rewarded they're uh i'm less certain although a la prossima