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The role of cultural attributes in savings rates

Amir Shoham (School of Business Administration, College of Management – Academic Studies, Rishon LeZion, Israel)
Miki Malul (Department of Public Policy and Administration, Ben‐Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er‐Sheva, Israel)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 27 July 2012




The motivation for conducting this research came from the current global economic crisis. One outcome of the crisis is the awareness of the need for a better understanding of what causes people to save. Low savings rates in Western countries in general and in the USA in particular are the roots of the crisis. Furthermore, saving is probably one of the most important economic variables that impact the local and global environment. The current economic literature neglects the crucial impact that culture has on saving as a consequence we do not fully understand the causes of different saving rates in different societies. The purpose of this paper is to explore the variable of cultural attitudes as an explanation for variations in national savings rates.


The phenomenon of diminishing personal savings cannot be explained simply by the variables studied in the current economic literature, such as interest rates, age of the population and wealth as expressed by GDP per capita. This paper explores the role that cultural attributes play in affecting the level of savings in different countries. The paper uses cross‐national data to determine the effect of cultural attributes on savings rates.


Cultural variables, particularly the level of uncertainty avoidance and collectivism, have a significant impact on the level of savings. As the level of uncertainty avoidance increases, the level of national savings increases. In addition, the more collectivist the society, the higher the savings rate.


Policy makers must realize that simply changing economic factors such as interest rates may not have the desired effect of raising savings rates. They must also take into account the cultural attributes of the country when making policy.



Shoham, A. and Malul, M. (2012), "The role of cultural attributes in savings rates", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 304-314.



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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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