Is There a Gene for Unwise Credit Card Borrowing?

Jan-Emmanuel De Neve of the London School of Economics and James Fowler of the University of California at San Diego Law School say yes in this article. Here's the abstract:

have long realized the importance of credit markets and borrowing
behavior for household finance and economics more generally. More
recently, twin studies have shown that genetic variation plays a
significant role in financial decision making. However, these studies
have not identified which genes might be involved. Here we present the
first evidence of a specific gene that may influence borrowing behavior.
Using a discovery and replication sample from a U.S. representative
data set (Add Health), we show that a functional polymorphism on the
MAOA gene is associated with credit card borrowing behavior. For the
combined sample of approximately 10,000 individuals we find that having
one or both MAOA alleles of the less transcriptionally efficient type
raises the average likelihood of reporting credit card debt by about 8%.
These results suggest that behavioral models benefit from integrating
genetic variation and that economists should consider the welfare
consequences of possible discrimination by lenders on the basis of
. (emphasis added)


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