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