Migration and International Trade

Migration and International Trade

The US Experience Since 1945

Roger White

This unique book synthesizes and extends the immigrant–trade literature and provides comprehensive coverage of this timely and important topic. In that vein, the author contributes to the understanding of the relationship between immigration and trade and sheds light on a noteworthy aspect of globalization that both confronts policymakers with challenges and offers the potential to overcome them.

Chapter 7: Cultural Distance between the US and Immigrants’ Home Countries

Roger White

Subjects: development studies, migration, economics and finance, international economics, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


In an attempt to explain further the underlying basis for the US immigrant– trade link, this chapter introduces a measure of cultural differences (that is, the cultural distance) between the US and each of the home countries in our data set. Hofstede (1981) defines culture as a system of collectively held values which suggests that cultural differences are the degree to which shared norms and values differ from one country to another. Such norms and values reflect societies’ behavioral rules, which may be represented through artifacts and symbols, myths and legends, rituals, ceremonies and celebrations, beliefs, and ethical codes (Brown, 1995). Inglehart et al. (2004) also notes that relationship structures, societal obligations, roles and functions are important factors that determine and, hence, reflect a nation’s culture. A brief definition of ‘culture’ may be that it is the totality of behavior, beliefs, arts, institutions and all other avenues by which a population, community or a class collectively expresses its values and attitudes. If, at the society/country-level, culture is a composite reflection of the population’s shared habits and traditions, learned beliefs and customs, attitudes, norms and values, it follows that greater social and/or institutional dissimilarity corresponds with greater cultural dissimilarity (White and Tadesse, 2008a). Greater variation in consumer preferences across immigrants and other host country residents, which may result from cultural (that is, social and institutional) differences between the host and home countries, may increase the likelihood that immigrants will exert positive influences on US imports from their home countries via the...

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