NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Justin Cook

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts
University of California, Merced

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2017High School Genetic Diversity and Later-life Student Outcomes: Micro-level Evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study
with Jason M. Fletcher: w23520
A novel hypothesis posits that levels of genetic diversity in a population may partially explain variation in the development and success of countries. Our paper extends evidence on this novel question by subjecting the hypothesis to an alternative context that eliminates many alternative hypotheses by aggregating representative data to the high school level from a single state (Wisconsin) in 1957, when the population was composed nearly entirely of individuals of European ancestry. Using this sample of high school aggregations, we too find a strong effect of genetic diversity on socioeconomic outcomes. Additionally, we check an existing mechanism and propose a new potential mechanism of the results for innovation: personality traits associated with creativity and divergent thinking.
January 2015Understanding Heterogeneity in the Effects of Birth Weight on Adult Cognition and Wages
with Jason M. Fletcher: w20895
A large economics literature has shown long term impacts of birth weight on adult outcomes, including IQ and earnings that are often robust to sibling or twin fixed effects. We examine potential mechanisms underlying these effects by incorporating findings from the genetics and neuroscience literatures. We use a sample of siblings combined with an “orchids and dandelions hypothesis”, where the IQ of genetic dandelions is not affected by in utero nutrition variation but genetic orchids thrive under advantageous conditions and wilt in poor conditions. Indeed, using variation in three candidate genes related to neuroplasticity (APOE, BDNF, and COMT), we find substantial heterogeneity in the associations between birth weight and adult outcomes, where part of the population (i.e., “dandelion...

Published: Justin Cook, C. & Fletcher, Jason M., 2015. "Understanding heterogeneity in the effects of birth weight on adult cognition and wages," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 107-116. citation courtesy of

 
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