SAFE Working Paper No. 58

Incompatible European Partners? Cultural Predispositions and Household Financial Behavior

The Eurozone fiscal crisis has created pressure for institutional harmonization, but skeptics argue that cultural predisposition scan prevent convergence in behavior. Our paper derives a robust cultural classification of European countries and utilizes unique data on natives and immigrants. Classification based on genetic distance or on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions fails to identify a single ‘southern’ culture but points to a ‘northern’ culture. Our findings support the relevance of cultural predispositions for financial behavior; and convergence of behavior over time in the face of common institutions, even for countries with great cultural distance from the country that created those institutions.