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Genes, Economics, and Happiness


De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Christakis, Nicholas A; Fowler, James H; Frey, Bruno S (2010). Genes, Economics, and Happiness. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 475, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Research on happiness has produced valuable insights into the sources of subjective well-being. A major finding from this literature is that people exhibit a 'baseline' happiness that shows persistent strength over time, and twin studies have shown that genes play a significant role in explaining the variance of baseline happiness between individuals. However, these studies have not identified which genes might be involved. This article presents evidence of a specific gene that predicts subjective well-being. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show thatnindividuals with a transcriptionally more efficient version of the serotonin transporter gene (5HTT) are significantly more likely to report higher levels of life satisfaction. Having one or two alleles of the more efficient type raises the average likelihood of being very satisfied with one's life by 8.5% and 17.3%, respectively. This result maynhelp to explain the stable component of happiness and suggests that genetic association studies can help us to better understand individual heterogeneity in subjective well-being.

Abstract

Research on happiness has produced valuable insights into the sources of subjective well-being. A major finding from this literature is that people exhibit a 'baseline' happiness that shows persistent strength over time, and twin studies have shown that genes play a significant role in explaining the variance of baseline happiness between individuals. However, these studies have not identified which genes might be involved. This article presents evidence of a specific gene that predicts subjective well-being. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show thatnindividuals with a transcriptionally more efficient version of the serotonin transporter gene (5HTT) are significantly more likely to report higher levels of life satisfaction. Having one or two alleles of the more efficient type raises the average likelihood of being very satisfied with one's life by 8.5% and 17.3%, respectively. This result maynhelp to explain the stable component of happiness and suggests that genetic association studies can help us to better understand individual heterogeneity in subjective well-being.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:February 2010
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 15:09
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 09:59
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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