Savings behavior among immigrants and their U.S.-born children: A test of the culture-transplant model

By Jason Richwine on August 2, 2023


The economic impact of immigration involves the movement of more than just labor and capital. Under the culture-transplant model, immigrants carry from their birth countries distinctive values and behaviors that they transmit to their descendants in their new countries. This study tests the model by examining the savings disposition of immigrants and their U.S.-born children. It finds a robust link between individuals’ savings and the national savings rates of their ancestral countries. In a midrange estimate, a 1 percentage-point increase in ancestral-country savings rates is associated with a 1 percent increase in retirement savings among second-generation immigrants. These results suggest that savings behavior has a cultural basis that persists in the generation after migration.

Read the full article in the peer-reviewed academic journal Economics Letters.