Caught in the cultural preference net: Three generations of employment choices in six capitalist democracies

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In this book, the authors focus their attention on the role that culture, that collection of values, beliefs, attitudes, and preferences responsible for creating national identities, has played and continues to play on individuals’ decisions when they are in or about to enter the labor market. At a time when millennials face many employment challenges and Generation Z can be expected to encounter even more, a clearer understanding of the ways cultural transmission could facilitate or hinder productive and rewarding work would appear to be both useful and well-timed. The book’s title-Caught in the Cultural Preference Net: Three Generations of Employment Choices in Six Capitalist Democracies-conveys the authors’ aim to determine if work-related beliefs, attitudes, and preferences have remained stable across generations or if they have become pliant under changing economic conditions. And while millennials serve as the anchoring point for much of our discussion, they do not neglect the significance that their parents from Generation X (b. 1965-1982) and their baby boomer parents (b. 1945-1964) may have had on their socialization into the world of work. The book is organized around three lines of inquiry: (a) Do some national cultures possess value orientations that are more successful than others in promoting economic opportunity? (b) Does the transmission of these value orientations demonstrate persistence irrespective of economic conditions or are they simply the result of these conditions? (c) If a nation’s beliefs and attitudes do indeed impact opportunity, do they do so by influencing an individual’s preferences and behavioral intentions? The authors’ principal method for isolating the employment effects of cultural transmission is what is referred to as a stated preference experiment. They replicate this experiment in six countries-Germany, Sweden, Spain, Italy, India, and the United States-countries that have historically adopted significantly different forms of capitalism. They not only find some strong evidence for cultural stability across countries but also observe an erosion in this stability among millennials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages258
ISBN (Electronic)9780190672782
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Culture
  • Economic performance
  • Intergenerational transmission
  • Stated preference
  • Youth employment


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