No Link Between Sex Hormones Around Birth and Economic Preferences
70 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 1, 2020
Economic preferences have a hormonal basis via exposure to testosterone and estrogen around birth, according to previous research. However, these studies mostly rely on 2D:4D digit ratios, a purported proxy for prenatal testosterone exposure, whose validity has recently been questioned. Here, we use direct measures of sex hormones (i.e. testosterone and estrogen) from umbilical cord blood at birth and investigate their association with later-life measures of economic preferences (i.e. risk preferences, competitiveness preferences, time preferences and social preferences) in a longitudinal cohort of Australian young adults (Raine Study Gen2) using incentivized experiments (n = 217). We find no evidence for an association between neonatal sex hormones and economic preferences. We also estimate precise null effects for the relationship between 2D:4D digit ratios and economic preferences (n = 597).
Keywords: hormones, economic preferences, testosterone, developmental origins
JEL Classification: D01, D04, C91, D87, D90
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation