Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1553633
 
 

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Genes, Economics, and Happiness


Jan‐Emmanuel De Neve


University College London; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Nicholas A. Christakis


Harvard Medical School - Department of Health Care Policy

James H. Fowler


UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Bruno S. Frey


CREMA; Zeppelin University

August 2012

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2946

Abstract:     
We explore the influence of genetic variation on subjective well-being by employing a twin design and genetic association study. In a nationally-representative twin sample, we first show that about 33% of the variation in life satisfaction is explained by genetic variation. Although previous studies have shown that baseline happiness is significantly heritable, little research has considered molecular genetic associations with subjective well-being. We study the relationship between a functional polymorphism on the serotonin transporter gene (5-HTTLPR) and life satisfaction. We initially find that individuals with the longer, transcriptionally more efficient variant of this genotype report greater life satisfaction (n=2,545, p=0.012). However, our replication attempts on independent samples produce mixed results indicating that more work needs to be done to better understand the relationship between this genotype and subjective well-being. This work has implications for how economists think about the determinants of utility, and the extent to which exogenous shocks might affect individual well-being.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 51

Keywords: happiness, subjective well-being, genetics

JEL Classification: A12, D03, D87, Z00

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Date posted: February 18, 2010  

Suggested Citation

De Neve, Jan‐Emmanuel and Christakis, Nicholas A. and Fowler, James H. and Frey, Bruno S., Genes, Economics, and Happiness (August 2012). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2946. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1553633

Contact Information

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve
University College London ( email )
29/30 Tavistock Square
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/deneve/
Nicholas A. Christakis
Harvard Medical School - Department of Health Care Policy ( email )
25 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115
United States
James H. Fowler
UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States
HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu
UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )
9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States
HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu
Bruno S. Frey (Contact Author)
CREMA ( email )
Südstrasse 11
Zurich, CH 8008
Switzerland
Zeppelin University ( email )
Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany
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