Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 765: Is Financial Risk-Taking Behavior Genetically Transmitted?

David Cesarini (), Magnus Johannesson (), Paul Lichtenstein, Örjan Sandewall () and Björn Wallace ()
Additional contact information
David Cesarini: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Massaschusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, US
Magnus Johannesson: Stockholm School of Economics
Paul Lichtenstein: Karolinska Institutet, Postal: Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Stockholm, Sweden
Örjan Sandewall: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and London School of Economics, London, UK
Björn Wallace: Stockholm School of Economics

Abstract: In this paper, we use a sample of almost 30,000 Swedish mono- and dizygotic twins to study the heritability of financial risk-taking. Following a major pension reform in the year 2000, virtually all Swedish adults had to simultaneously make a financial decision affecting post-retirement wealth. We take this event as a field experiment to infer risk preferences. We use standard techniques from behavior genetics to partition variation in risk-taking into environmental and genetic components. Our findings suggest that genetic variation is an important source of individual heterogeneity in financial risk-taking.

Keywords: Genetics; Risk-Taking; Portfolio Investment; Twins

JEL-codes: D01; G11

40 pages, September 23, 2008

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