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Genes, Economics and Happiness

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

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.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1127.

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Date of creation: Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1127
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  1. von Hinke Kessler Scholder, S & Propper, C & Lawlor, D & Windmeijer, F & Davey Smith, G, . "Genetic markers as instrumental variables: an application to child fat mass and academic achievement," Working Papers 5772, Imperial College, London, Imperial College Business School.
  2. Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder & George Davey Smith & Debbie A. Lawlor & Carol Propper & Frank Windmeijer, 2011. "Genetic Markers as Instrumental Variables," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/274, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  3. Allcott, Hunt & Karlan, Dean & Mobius, Markus & Rosenblat, Tanya & Szeidl, Adam, 2010. "Community Size and Network Closure," Staff General Research Papers 32110, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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  8. Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger & David Schkade & Norbert Schwarz & Arthur A. Stone, 2006. "Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion," Working Papers 77, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
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  10. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, 07.
  11. David Cesarini & Christopher T. Dawes & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace, 2009. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842, May.
  12. Federico Echenique & Roland G. Fryer Jr & Alex Kaufman, 2006. "Is School Segregation Good or Bad?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 265-269, May.
  13. Fryer, Roland & Echenique, Federico, 2007. "A Measure of Segregation Based on Social Interactions," Scholarly Articles 2958220, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  14. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, June.
  15. Jonathan P. Beauchamp & David Cesarini & Magnus Johannesson & Matthijs J. H. M. van der Loos & Philipp D. Koellinger & Patrick J. F. Groenen & James H. Fowler & J. Niels Rosenquist & A. Roy Thurik & N, 2011. "Molecular Genetics and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 57-82, Fall.
  16. Oswald, Andrew J. & Wu, Stephen, 2010. "Objective Confirmation of Subjective Measures of Human Well-being: Evidence from the USA," IZA Discussion Papers 4695, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2008. "Dopamine, Reward Prediction Error, and Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 663-701, 05.
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