Characterizing the Genetic Influences on Risk Aversion

TitleCharacterizing the Genetic Influences on Risk Aversion
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHarrati, A
JournalBiodemography and Social Biology
KeywordsGenetics, Net Worth and Assets, Retirement Planning and Satisfaction, Risk Taking

Risk aversion has long been cited as an important factor in retirement decisions, investment behavior, and health. Some of the heterogeneity in individual risk tolerance is well understood, reflecting age gradients, wealth gradients, and similar effects, but much remains unexplained. This study explores genetic contributions to heterogeneity in risk aversion among older Americans. Using over 2 million genetic markers per individual from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, I report results from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on risk preferences using a sample of 10,455 adults. None of the single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are found to be statistically significant determinants of risk preferences at levels stricter than 5 x 10(-8). These results suggest that risk aversion is a complex trait that is highly polygenic. The analysis leads to upper bounds on the number of genetic effects that could exceed certain thresholds of significance and still remain undetected at the current sample size. The findings suggest that the known heritability in risk aversion is likely to be driven by large numbers of genetic variants, each with a small effect size.


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Endnote Keywords

risk Aversion/retirement planning/investments/risk tolerance/genetics/genetics/Heritability

Endnote ID


Citation Key8058