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Jonathan Beauchamp

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 paved the way to a new era in the field of medical genetics. During this time, many scientists were looking for specific genes (or genetic variants) responsible for various diseases.

Recently, economists and social scientists have in turn started looking for genetic variants that may be the cause of variations in certain economic and social characteristics; the result was an emerging sub-discipline called "genoeconomics." Although initial results from this research have often proven to be unreliable, refinement of the research techniques has led to more robust results that helped identify precise genes. For example, one study identified more than 70 genetic variants related to the education level attained by a given individual. These variants, however, explain only a small part of the total variation.

During his webinar, Jonathan Beauchamp will outline several recent discoveries in this new discipline and discuss their implications. The speaker will provide an overview of some of these important discoveries (and the lessons to be drawn from them) that will help to explain how genetic and environmental factors lead to certain economic and social traits, such as altruism, level of education attained, personal income and financial decision-making. According to Mr. Beauchamp, these results-although very interesting and informative in considering and understanding mankind-have very few direct or immediate consequences on public policy, and they certainly do not justify a deterministic genetic view of the world. Lastly, the speaker will discuss future applications of these research results for economists and other social scientists, by focusing on the possibility of better understanding how genes and the environment interact in order to bring about given social and economic characteristics.

Jonathan Beauchamp.jpgDr. Jonathan Beauchamp, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Reseacher, Departments of Economics, Harvard University

Jonathan Beauchamp's doctoral work employed a multidisciplinary approach, importing insights from genetics, neuroscience, and psychology to study questions of interest to economists, such as human capital formation, the determinants of economic outcomes, and the effect of cognitive biases on economic choices. During his doctorate, Jonathan spent a semester at Princeton University working on a project in the emerging field of neuroeconomics. Jonathan holds a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and a Master's degree in Economics from Queen's University, where he specialized in monetary and public economics and wrote his Master's Essay on Canada's monetary policy. Following his doctorate, Jonathan joined the Montreal office of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company and also worked for the International Monetary Fund. Jonathan has now returned to the academic world and he is doing a postdoc at Harvard.

Beauchamp received a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 2011.

View Webinar(This webinar is available in French only.)