Collectivism All Around

By: Joelle Saad Lessler   Karen Richman  

This study integrates anthropological and economic theory and methods to transcend the typical disciplinary divide and to help us interpret big data through a new lens. We build on our successful collaboration in studying Latino savings to explain the relationship between formal and informal saving accumulations among all U.S. demographics. The impetus for this project is mounting anecdotal evidence of interdependence among all Americans and the recent release of a goldmine of data from the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). We identify and investigate key differences and similarities in collectivist practices and formal saving behaviors across US demographics defined along lines of gender, race/ethnicity, age, immigrant generation, conjugal union status, household income, and household wealth. The concrete indicators of collectivist behaviors along with measures of formal savings may reveal whether collectivist practices complement or substitute for formal savings. In addition to explaining the relationship between formal and informal savings, this study pilots a novel decomposition analysis that predicts each demographic group’s likelihood of being secure in old age based on indices of collectivist practices and retirement savings accumulations.

Collectivism, Retirement Savings
Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Joelle Saad Lessler

Associate Industry Professor, School of Business, Stevens Institute of Technology, United States
NJ, United States

Dr. Joelle Saad-Lessler is a labor economist with expertise in econometric modeling, statistical programming and in-depth data analysis. She holds a BA and PhD in Economics from Columbia University. Her research ranges from the economics of immigration and local labor markets to the economics of retirement. 

Karen Richman

Director of Undergraduate Studies, University of Notre Dame