Genetics and Economic Success


This paper studies how genetics influences one’s chances of economic success. To estimate its causal effects, separating nature from nurture, I exploit naturally-occurring randomness in the genetic transmission from parents to offspring. The genetic measure is the polygenic index for educational attainment (EA PGI). High-PGI individuals have higher chances of economic success, largely because they tend to get more education and sort into higher-SES occupations. The results suggest the costs and benefits of different educational and occupational choices depend on individual characteristics that are influenced by genetics, such as fluid intelligence and self-control. I discuss how to interpret the results.

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