The Role of Culture in Smoking Behavior: Evidence from British Immigrants in Australia, South Africa, and the U.S.

Rebekka Christopoulou, Cornell University
Dean R. Lillard, Cornell University

We use retrospective smoking data from Australia, South Africa, the US, and the UK to investigate the role of culture in decisions to smoke over the life-course. We exploit historical migration flows across these countries and separate the population in Australia, South Africa, and the US into second-generation British immigrants and natives. We test for smoking-related cultural assimilation of immigrants in two ways. First, we examine whether British immigrants and natives differ in responsiveness of smoking participation to cigarette taxes and economic development. Second, we relate smoking participation of British immigrants to smoking prevalence of the generation in Great Britain to which their parents would have belonged. We find that culture affects smoking behavior differentially by gender and country. We conjecture that these differences are linked to the influence of feminist smoking-related attitudes, and to differences in geographical remoteness among the UK and the countries of immigrant destination.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 174: Immigrant Health