TEXT OF STORY
Steve Chiotakis: Maybe we can blame the financial fallout on our genes. There’s a new study out today that links — if in a small way — our genetic make-up to the amount of risk we’re willing to take with our savings. From the Innovations Desk at North Carolina Public Radio, here’s Marketplace’s Janet Babin.
Janet Babin: Dopamine and seratonin are brain chemicals that play a role in behaviors, like addiction or how neurotic we are. According to the study, two genes that regulate these chemicals are culprits in our economic behavior.
Northwestern University professor Camelia Kuhnen gave students money to make 96 investment choices. Then she took some of their saliva to get their DNA. Students who carried specific varieties of the genes made risky investments 25 percent more of the time than those without them.
But Kuhnen says her study didn’t take into account how we grow up:
Camelia Kuhnen: Only 30 percent of variation in risk-taking behavior is due to our genes. The rest of 70 percent comes from other things, like your life experience, your cultural background, your education.
The risk-taking variants that Kuhnen identified are also also linked to how much our ancestors moved around. The farther they traveled, the more likely you are to make financial risks choices.
I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.
Marketplace is on a mission.
We believe Main Street matters as much as Wall Street, economic news is made relevant and real through human stories, and a touch of humor helps enliven topics you might typically find…well, dull.
Through the signature style that only Marketplace can deliver, we’re on a mission to raise the economic intelligence of the country—but we don’t do it alone. We count on listeners and readers like you to keep this public service free and accessible to all. Will you become a partner in our mission today?