Genetic Distance and Intra-National Variation in Preferences and Behaviour
41 Pages Posted: 28 May 2019
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Researchers have discovered systematic cross-regional differences in many fundamental preferences and behaviour. The large heterogeneity in preferences exists not only cross-countries, but also within countries. This paper explores the ancient origins of the intra-national variation in preferences and behaviour. Taking China as an example, we examine the relationship between genetic distance and variation in preferences and behaviour using data from the China Family Panel Studies (CFPS). We focus on three categories of representative and fundamental preferences — risk, time, and social preferences — as well as related behaviour. We find that genetic distance explains the differences in risk, time and social preferences after we control for potential confounding factors. Genetic distance also explains differences in related behaviour, including differences in entrepreneurship, risk-taking behaviour, saving behaviour, cooperative behaviour and prosocial behaviour. In general, genetic distance accounts for 2%-30% of the standard deviation of differences in preferences and behaviour. While genetic distance shapes variation in all preferences and behaviour, the effect is the strongest for social preferences and related behaviour.
Keywords: genetic distance, preference, behaviour, within-country analysis
JEL Classification: D01 ,D03, Z13
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