SBS World News Radio: An international study has found religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds can have significant influence on whether or not people decide to save their money.
Having a high income can make it easier to save for obvious reasons, but Associate Professor Chris Baumann from Macquarie University says the high earners aren't always the big savers.
"We cannot just naively assume the more somebody earns, the more they will save or the less they will save, it's much more complex. We need to understand cultural backgrounds and religion, for example."
These are the areas highlighted in a study comparing the spending and saving habits of Caucasian consumers with Chinese populations in mainland China, Australia and Canada.
The research has found middle-income earners with a religious background tend to save more.
"For the religious and non-religious group there's practically no difference when the income is very low, they'd be living in a very, very similar ways. But when we look at the middle income group, we can see there's a big difference where the non-religious save much, much less and the religious group saves much, much more, possibly because they're restrained from spending for general consumption or entertainment. But when the income is very high, we see a very big difference in the opposite direction. So we see the religious group all of a sudden saving very low, very little, meaning they spend much, much more and we see the opposite for the non-religious group."
The study found people of Chinese heritage tended to save more than their Caucasian counterparts.
The study authors believe this is partly because of cultural considerations such as Confucianism which puts an emphasis on being frugal and having financial security.
The Australia China Business Council, which promotes trade between the two countries, says these cultural differences are important to understand for people doing business in China.
Chief Executive Helen Sawczak says the Chinese like to spend more time getting to know potential business partners before striking deals.
She says a non-confrontational approach and plenty of patience are crucial when doing business in China.
"They obviously have the concept of losing face whereas in the West we tend to engage in very robust and tough negotiations. In China, the way of doing business and negotiating is very non-confrontational for fear of losing face so you need to adapt. We often advise our members to actually adopt a more conciliatory way of doing business when negotiating with Chinese counterparts."