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Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking

  • David Cesarini

    (Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

  • Christopher T. Dawes

    (Political Science Department, University of California at San Diego.)

  • Magnus Johannesson

    (Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics.)

  • Paul Lichtenstein

    (Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet.)

  • Björn Wallace

    (Department of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics.)

In this paper, we use the classical twin design to provide estimates of genetic and environmental influences on experimentally elicited preferences for risk and giving. Using standard methods from behavior genetics, we find strong prima facie evidence that these preferences are broadly heritable and our estimates suggest that genetic differences explain approximately twenty percent of individual variation. The results thus shed light on an important source of individual variation in preferences, a source that has hitherto been largely neglected in the economics literature. (c) 2009 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 124 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 809-842

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:2:p:809-842
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