This research project explores how genomic data can inform the understanding of social science questions. The genomic revolution means that social scientists are able to correlate a range of outcomes and behaviors with genes. This research studies what these correlations mean.

Research on the role of genes in explaining a range of socioeconomic outcomes has exploded in the last decade. The primary reason for this is the emergence of genomic data. While standard approaches to measuring the role of “nature” have been predicated on genes being unobservable, necessitating the use of kinship correlations to infer genetic effects, current work uses SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms) to directly link genes and outcomes. Strong claims are made, for example, that 50% of heterogeneity in intelligence may be attributed to gene variation. This research project speaks to questions of socioeconomic inequality.

This project develops tools to study of the role of genes in socioeconomic outcomes. In particular, the research focuses on the development of formal results on the identification of genetic influences and studies existing approaches to uncovering genetic influences to evaluate whether various claims on the role of genes and socioeconomic outcomes are credible, i.e. whether empirical claims are justified. Further, this project studies whether genetic influences on socioeconomic outcomes are identifiable, i.e. whether there exist statistical frameworks that can provide plausible inferences, even if the current ones do not.