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Genes, Economics and Happiness

Author

Listed:
  • Nicholas A. Christakis
  • Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
  • James H. Fowler
  • Bruno S. Frey

Abstract

A major finding from research into the sources of subjective well-being is that individuals exhibit a "baseline" level of happiness. We explore the influence of genetic variation by employing a twin design and genetic association study. We first show that about 33% of the variation in happiness is explained by genes. Next, using two independent data sources, we present evidence that individuals with a transcriptionally more efficient version of the serotonin transporter gene (SLC6A4) report significantly higher levels of life satisfaction. These results are the first to identify a specific gene that is associated with happiness and suggest that behavioral models benefit from integrating genetic variation.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas A. Christakis & Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & James H. Fowler & Bruno S. Frey, 2012. "Genes, Economics and Happiness," CEP Discussion Papers dp1127, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1127
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel & Fowler, James H., 2014. "Credit card borrowing and the monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) gene," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PB), pages 428-439.
    2. Anna Matysiak & Letizia Mencarini & Daniele Vignoli, 2015. "Work-family Conflict Moderates the Impact of Childbearing on Subjective Well-Being," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 435, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    3. Richard Layard & Andrew E. Clark & Francesca Cornaglia & Nattavudh Powdthavee & James Vernoit, 2014. "What Predicts a Successful Life? A Life‐course Model of Well‐being," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(580), pages 720-738, November.
    4. Adrian Chadi, 2014. "Regional unemployment and norm-induced effects on life satisfaction," Empirical Economics, Springer, pages 1111-1141.
    5. Eugenio Proto & Andrew J. Oswald, 2017. "National Happiness and Genetic Distance: A Cautious Exploration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(604), pages 2127-2152, September.
    6. Anna Matysiak & Letizia Mencarini & Daniele Vignoli, 2016. "Work–Family Conflict Moderates the Relationship Between Childbearing and Subjective Well-Being," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(3), pages 355-379, August.
    7. Hideyuki Mizobuchi, 2017. "Measuring Socio-economic Factors and Sensitivity of Happiness," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 463-504, April.
    8. Violeta Misheva, 2016. "What Determines Emotional Well-Being? The Role of Adverse Experiences: Evidence Using Twin Data," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 1921-1937, October.
    9. repec:bla:jorssa:v:180:y:2017:i:1:p:3-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Vanessa Mertins & Andrea B. Schote & Jobst Meyer, 2013. "Variants of the Monoamine Oxidase A Gene (MAOA) Predict Free-riding Behavior in Women in a Strategic Public Goods Experiment," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201302, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    11. Otrachshenko, Vladimir & Popova, Olga, 2014. "Life (dis)satisfaction and the intention to migrate: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 40-49.
    12. Ehsan Latif, 2016. "Happiness and Comparison Income: Evidence from Canada," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 161-177, August.
    13. Morris, Eric A., 2015. "Should we all just stay home? Travel, out-of-home activities, and life satisfaction," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 519-536.
    14. De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel & Diener, Ed & Tay, Louis & Xuereb, Cody, 2013. "The objective benefits of subjective well-being," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51669, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve & Ed Diener & Louis Tay & Cody Xuereb, 2013. "The Objective Benefits of Subjective Well-Being," CEP Discussion Papers dp1236, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    16. Hans-Peter Kohler & Letizia Mencarini, 2016. "The Parenthood Happiness Puzzle: An Introduction to Special Issue," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(3), pages 327-338, August.
    17. repec:spr:jhappi:v:18:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9774-5 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wellbeing; socio-demographics; happiness; genetics; life satisfaction;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General

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