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Genes, Economics and Happiness

Listed author(s):
  • 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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File URL: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1127.pdf
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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
Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1127
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  2. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  3. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Economic Growth and Subjective Well-Being: Reassessing the Easterlin Paradox," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 1-102.
  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
  5. 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.
  6. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842.
  7. 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.
  8. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. Andrew Caplin & Mark Dean, 2008. "Dopamine, Reward Prediction Error, and Economics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 663-701.
  12. von Hinke Kessler Scholder S, 2009. "Genetic Markers as Instrumental Variables: An Application to Child Fat Mass and Academic Achievement," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/25, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  13. repec:pri:cepsud:125krueger is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
  15. Fletcher, Jason M. & Lehrer, Steven F., 2011. "Genetic lotteries within families," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 647-659, July.
  16. von Hinke, Stephanie & Davey Smith, George & Lawlor, Debbie A. & Propper, Carol & Windmeijer, Frank, 2016. "Genetic markers as instrumental variables," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 131-148.
  17. Bruno S. Frey, 2008. "Happiness: A Revolution in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262062771, January.
  18. Dean Karlan & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya S. Rosenblat & Adam Szeidl & Hunt Allcott, 2007. "Community Size and Network Closure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 80-85, May.
  19. Federico Echenique & Roland G. Fryer, 2007. "A Measure of Segregation Based on Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 441-485.
  20. 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..
  21. Luis Rayo & Gary S. Becker, 2007. "Habits, Peers, and Happiness: An Evolutionary Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 487-491, May.
  22. Jason M. Fletcher & Steven F. Lehrer, 2009. "Using Genetic Lotteries within Families to Examine the Causal Impact of Poor Health on Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 15148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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