Genetic lotteries within families

  • Jason M. Fletcher Jason M. Fletcher
  • Steven F. Lehrer Steven F. Lehrer

Drawing on findings from the biomedical literature, this paper introduces the idea that specific exogenously inherited differences in the genetic code between full biological siblings can be used to test within-family estimators and potentially improve our understanding of economic relationships. These points are illustrated with an application to identify the causal impact of several poor health conditions on academic outcomes. We present evidence of large impacts of poor mental health on academic achievement and demonstrate that our results are robust to reasonable violations of the exclusion restriction assumption. Further, our estimates suggest that family fixed effects estimators by themselves cannot fully account for the endogeneity of poor health.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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