Cultural economics is the branch of economics that studies the relation of culture to economic outcomes. Here, 'culture' is defined by shared beliefs and preferences of respective groups. Programmatic issues include whether and how much culture matters as to economic outcomes and what its relation is to institutions. As a growing field in behavioral economics, the role of culture in economic behavior is increasingly being demonstrate to cause significant differentials in decision-making and the management and valuation of assets.
Cultural economics develops from how wants and tastes are formed in society. This is partly due to nurture aspects, or what type of environment one is raised in, as it is the internalization of one's upbringing that shapes their future wants and tastes. Acquired tastes can be thought of as an example of this, as they demonstrate how preferences can be shaped socially.
A key thought area that separates the development of cultural economics from traditional economics is a difference in how individuals arrive at their decisions. While a traditional economist will view decision making as having both implicit and explicit consequences, a cultural economist would argue that an individual will not only arrive at their decision based on these implicit and explicit decisions but based on trajectories. These trajectories consist of regularities, which have been built up throughout the years and guide individuals in their decision-making process.
Combining value systems and systems thinking
Economists have also started to look at cultural economics with a systems thinking approach. In this approach, the economy and culture are each viewed as a single system where "interaction and feedback effects were acknowledged, and where in particular the dynamic were made explicit". In this sense, the interdependencies of culture and the economy can be combined and better understood by following this approach.
Said E. Dawlabani's book MEMEnomics: The Next-Generation Economic System combines the ideas of value systems (see value (ethics)) and systems thinking to provide one of the first frameworks that explores the effect of economic policies on culture. The book explores the intersections of multiple disciplines such as cultural development, organizational behavior, and memetics all in an attempt to explore the roots of cultural economics.
The advancing pace of new technology is transforming how the public consumes and shares culture. The cultural economic field has seen great growth with the advent of online social networking which has created productivity improvements in how culture is consumed. New technologies have also lead to cultural convergence where all kinds of culture can be accessed on a single device. Throughout their upbringing, younger persons of the current generation are consuming culture faster than their parents ever did, and through new mediums. The smartphone is a blossoming example of this where books, music, talk, artwork and more can all be accessed on a single device in a matter of seconds. This medium and the culture surrounding it is beginning to have an effect on the economy, whether it be increasing communication while lowering costs, lowering the barriers of entry to the technology economy, or making use of excess capacity.
An example of culture being consumed via smartphone.
This field has also seen growth through the advent of new economic studies that have put on a cultural lens. For example, a recent study on Europeans living with their families into adulthood was conducted by Paola Sapienza, a professor at Northwestern University. The study found that those of Southern European descent tend to live at home with their families longer than those of Northern European descent. Sapienza added cultural critique to her analysis of the research, revealing that it is Southern European culture to stay at home longer and then related this to how those who live at home longer have fewer children and start families later, thus contributing to Europe's falling birthrates. Sapienza's work is an example of how the growth of cultural economics is beginning to spread across the field.
An area that cultural economics has a strong presence in is sustainable development. Sustainable development has been defined as "...development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs...". Culture plays an important role in this as it can determine how people view preparing for these future generations. Delayed gratification is a cultural economic issue that developed countries are currently dealing with. Economists argue that to ensure that the future is better than today, certain measures must be taken such as collecting taxes or "going green" to protect the environment. Policies such as these are hard for today's politicians to promote who want to win the vote of today's voters who are concerned with the present and not the future. People want to see the benefits now, not in the future.
Economist David Throsby has proposed the idea of culturally sustainable development which compasses both the cultural industries (such as the arts) and culture (in the societal sense). He has created a set of criteria in regards to for which policy prescriptions can be compared to in order to ensure growth for future generations. The criteria are as follows:
Advancement of material and non-material well-being: implies balance amongst economic, social, and cultural forces
Intergenerational equity and the maintenance of cultural capital: current generation must recognize their responsibility to future generations
Equity within the present generation: distribution of cultural resources must be fair
Recognition of interdependence: policy must understand the connections between economic, cultural and other variables within an overall system.
With these guidelines, Throsby hopes to spur the recognition between culture and economics, which is something he believes has been lacking from popular economic discussions.
Cultural finance a growing field in behavioral economics that studies the impact of cultural differences on individual financial decisions and on financial markets. Probably the first paper in this area was "The Role of Social Capital in Financial Development" by Luigi Guiso, Paola Sapienza, and Luigi Zingales. The paper studied how well-known differences in social capital affected the use and availability of financial contracts across different parts of Italy. In areas of the country with high levels of social capital, households invest less in cash and more in stock, use more checks, have higher access to institutional credit, and make less use of informal credit. Few years later, the same authors published another paper "Trusting the Stock Market" where they show that a general lack of trust can limit stock market participation. Since trust has a strong cultural component, these two papers represent important contribution in cultural economics. In 2007, Thorsten Hens and Mei Wang pointed out that indeed many areas of finance are influenced by cultural differences. The role of culture in financial behavior is also increasingly being demonstrated to have highly significant effects on the management and valuation of assets. Using the dimensions of culture identified by Shalom Schwartz, it has been proved that corporate dividend payments are determined largely by the dimensions of Mastery and Conservatism. Specifically, higher degrees of conservatism are associated with greater volumes and values of dividend payments, and higher degrees of mastery are associated with the total opposite. The effect of culture on dividend payouts has been further shown to be closely related to cultural differences in risk and time preferences. A different study assessed the role of culture on earnings management using Geert Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and the index of earnings management developed by Christian Leutz; which includes the use of accrual alteration to reduce volatility in reported earnings, the use of accrual alteration to reduce volatility in reported operating cash flows, use of accounting discretion to mitigate the reporting of small losses, and the use of accounting discretion when reporting operating earnings. It was found that Hofstede's dimension of Individualism was negatively correlated with earnings management, and that Uncertainty Avoidance was positively correlated. Behavioral economist Michael Taillard demonstrated that investment behaviors are caused primarily by behavioral factors, largely attributed to the influence of culture on the psychological frame of the investors in different nations, rather than rational ones by comparing the cultural dimensions used both by Geert Hofstede and Robert House, identifying strong and specific influences in risk aversion behavior resulting from the overlapping cultural dimensions between them that remained constant over a 20-year period.
In regards to investing, it has been confirmed by multiple studies that greater differences between the cultures of various nations reduces the amount of investment between those countries. It was proven that both cultural differences between nations as well as the amount of unfamiliarity investors have with a culture not their own greatly reduces their willingness to invest in those nations, and that these factors have a negative impact with future returns, resulting in a cost premium on the degree of foreignness of an investment. Despite this, equity markets continue to integrate as indicated by equity price comovements, of which the two largest contributing factors are the ratio of trade between nations and the ratio of GDP resulting from foreign direct investment. Even these factors are the result of behavioral sources, however. The UN World Investment Report (2013)  shows that regional integration is occurring at a more rapid rate than distant foreign relations, confirming an earlier study concluding that nations closer to each other tend to be more integrated. Since increased cultural distance reduces the amount of foreign direct investment, this results in an accelerating curvilinear correlation between financial behavior and cultural distance.
Geographical characteristics were linked recently to the emergence of cultural traits and differences in the intensity of these cultural traits across regions, countries and ethnic group.
Geographical characteristics that were favorable for the usage of the plow contributed to a gender gap in productivity, and to the emergence of gender roles in society. Agricultural characteristics that led to a higher return to agricultural investment generated a process of selection, adaptation, and learning, that increase the level of long-term orientation in society.
^• H. Peyton Young, 2008. "social norms." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract • Kenneth G. Binmore and Larry Samuelson, 1994. "An Economist's Perspective on the Evolution of Norms," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 150(1), pp. 45–63. Abstract.Archived 2014-11-09 at the Wayback Machine • Richard A. Posner, 1997. "Social Norms and the Law: An Economic Approach,"
American Economic Review, 87(2), p. 365–69. JSTOR2950947 • Gary S. Becker and Kevin M. Murphy, 2001, Social Economics: Market Behavior in a Social Environment, ch. 10, "The Formation of Norms and Values." Description and table of contents. Harvard University Press. • Jess Benhabib, Alberto Bisin, and Matthew Jackson, ed., 2011. Handbook of Social Economics, Elsevier. Vol. 1A: Part 1. Social Preferences, ch. 1-11; Part 2. Social Actions, ch. 12-17. Description & Contents linksArchived 2012-01-05 at the Wayback Machine and chapter-preview links. • Arthur J. Robson, 2008. "group selection," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract.
^• Roland Bénabou, 2008. "Ideology," Journal of the European Economic Association, 6(2-3), pp. 321–52. doi:10.1162/JEEA.2008.6.2-3.321 • Joseph P. Kalt and Mark A. Zupan, 1984. "Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics," American Economic Review, 74(3), p. 279–300. JSTOR1804008 Reprinted in C. Grafton and A. Permaloff, ed., 2005, The Behavioral Study of Political Ideology and Public Policy Formation, ch. 4, pp. 65–104. • Bisin, Alberto; Verdier, Thierry (March 2000). "A model of cultural transmission, voting and political ideology". European Journal of Political Economy. 16 (1): 5–29. doi:10.1016/S0176-2680(99)00045-2. • D. Andrew Austin and Nathaniel T. Wilcox, 2007. "Believing in Economic Theories: Sex, Lies, Evidence, Trust, and Ideology," Economic Inquiry 45(3), pp. 502–18. doi:10.1111/j.1465-7295.2006.00042.x • Timur Kuran, 1995. Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification. Harvard University Press. Description and scroll to chapter-preview links.
^• Joyce Berg, John Dickhaut, and Kevin McCabe, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, 10(1), pp. 122–42. doi:10.1006/game.1995.1027 • Raymond Fismana and Tarun Khanna, 1999. "Is Trust a Historical Residue? Information Flows and Trust Levels." Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 38(1), pp. 79–92. doi:10.1016/S0167-2681(98)00123-1 • Nava Ashraf, Iris Bohnet, and Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing Trust and Trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, 9(3), pp. 193–208. doi:10.1007/s10683-006-9122-4 • Paul J. Zak and Stephen Knack, 2001. "Trust and Growth," Economic Journal,
111(470), p p. 295–321. • Patrick Francois and Jan Zabojnik, 2005. "Trust, Social Capital, and Economic Development," Journal of the European Economic Association, 3(1), p p. 51–94. • Sjoerd Beugelsdijk, 2006. "A Note on the Theory and Measurement of Trust in Explaining Differences in Economic Growth," Cambridge Journal of Economics, 30(3), pp. 371–87. doi:10.1093/cje/bei064 • Swee-Hoon Chuah et al., 2007. "Do Cultures Clash? Evidence from Cross-national Ultimatum Game Experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 64(1), pp. 35–48. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2006.04.006
^As at Journal of Economic Literature category JEL: Z1 Cultural Economics,....
^• Partha Dasgupta, 2008. "social capital," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract. • Joel Sobel, 2002. "Can We Trust Social Capital?" Journal of Economic Literature, 40(1), pp. 139–54 (close Bookmarks tab).
^James Moody and Martina Morris. "social networks, economic relevance of," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition Abstract.
^• Paul Seabright, 2008. "hunters, gatherers, cities and evolution," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract. • Alberto Bisin and Thierry Verdier, 2008. "cultural transmission," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract. • Joel M. Guttman, 2003. "Repeated Interaction and the Evolution of Preferences for Reciprocity," Economic Journal, 113(489), p p. 631–56. • Alberto Bisin et al., 2004. "Cooperation as a Transmitted Cultural Trait," Rationality and Society, 16(4), 477–507. Abstract. • Oded Galor and Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), 1133–1191.
^• Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change as Informational Cascades." Journal of Political Economy, 100(5), pp. 992–1026.Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine • Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, 1998. "Learning from the Behavior of Others: Conformity, Fads, and Informational Cascades," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(3), pp. 151–70.Archived 2011-08-15 at the Wayback Machine • Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, 2008. "information cascades," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract.Archived 2013-01-21 at Archive.today
^• Alberto Bisin and Thierry Verdier, 2008. "cultural transmission. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract. • Rob Boyd, 2008. "cross-cultural experiments." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract. • José A. Scheinkman, 2008. "social interactions (theory)," The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, 2nd Edition. Abstract. • Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(3), pp.115–36 here or here or with linked citationsArchived 2011-08-14 at the Wayback Machine. • Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Culture and Language," Journal of Political Economy, 107(6), Part 2, pp. S95–S126. doi:10.1086/250105 • Oded Galor and Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), pp. 1133–1191. • Enrico Spolaore and Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How deep are the roots of economic development?," Journal of Economic Literature, 51(2), pp. 325–369. • Oded Galor and Ömer Özak, 2016. "The Agricultural Origins of Time Preference," American Economic Review, 106(10), pp. 3064–3103.
^Callen, L; Morel, M; Richardson, G (2011). "Do culture and religion mitigate earnings management? Evidence from a cross-country analysis". Journal of Disclosure and Governance. 8 (2): 103–21. doi:10.1057/jdg.2010.31.
^Taillard, Michael (2017). "Cultural Influences of Investing Behavior: A Correlational Design Study". ProQuest.
^Xu, Y; Hu, S; Fan, X (2009). "The impacts of country risk and cultural distance on transnational equity investments". Chinese Management Studies. 3 (3): 235–48. doi:10.1108/17506140910984087.
^GeambaŞu, C; Jianu, I; Herteliu, C; GeambaŞu, L (2014). "Macroeconomic Influence on Shares' Return Study Case: Arbitrage Pricing Theory (APT) Applied on Bucharest Stock Exchange". Economic Computation and Economic Cybernetics Studies and Research. 48 (2): 133–50.
^Boserup, Ester (1970). Woman's role in economic development. Routledge.
^Pryor, Frederic L. (1985). "The invention of the plow". Comparative Studies in Society and History. 27 (4): 727–743. doi:10.1017/S0010417500011749.
^Alesina, Alberto; Giuliano, Paola; Nunn, Nathan (2013). "On the origins of gender roles: Women and the plough". The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 128 (2): 469–530. doi:10.1093/qje/qjt005. hdl:10419/51568.