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Genes, Eyeglasses, and Social Policy

  • Charles F. Manski

Someone reading empirical research relating human genetics to personal outcomes must be careful to distinguish two types of work: An old literature on heritability attempts to decompose cross-sectional variation in observed outcomes into unobservable genetic and environmental components. A new literature measures specific genes and uses them as observed covariates when predicting outcomes. I will discuss these two types of work in terms of how they may inform social policy. I will argue that research on heritability is fundamentally uninformative for policy analysis, but make a cautious argument that research using genes as covariates is potentially informative.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.4.83
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Pages: 83-94

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:4:p:83-94
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.4.83
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