Working Paper
The family as a cultural nexus

This review paper focuses on the literature that studies the interactions between the family and culture. It does not attempt to be comprehensive, but instead illustrates via some representative papers the interaction between the family, its cultural beliefs and practices, and economic outcomes.

How shocks and policies affect an economy depend on more than economic ‘fundamentals’. They also depend on how the family is organized, the family institutions that are in place, and society’s cultural beliefs. Family institutions vary widely across countries, as do social beliefs—one should not ignore this diversity and ask for general ‘external validity’ of policies without understanding the social context in which they operate.

Much important work remains to be done, especially to understand how changes in both culture and the form of the family may shape future outcomes.