Essays on the Intersection of Economics and Biology

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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Biological economics is the interdisciplinary research field in which the interaction between human biology and economics is investigated and in which human beings are primarily seen as biological organisms. This thesis adopts a perspective in which certain individual economic choices and outcomes are connected to individual biological characteristics. The value of biological economics is at least threefold. First, knowledge about biological predispositions to economic choices and outcomes improves our understanding of the causes and consequences of individual differences. Second, biological measures known to be associated with economic choices and outcomes could be used in (otherwise non-biological) empirical work as control variables or instrumental variables. Third, information about economic predisposition to biological states and outcomes may result in targeted interventions to prevent undesired outcomes. Although it has been known for already quite some time that many economic choices and outcomes are heritable, no robust, replicable genetic predisposition to them had been found. This thesis shows that it is possible to find such associations, robustly and replicable, with relatively crude methods in combination with statistical rigor. This thesis also presents evidence that self-employed individuals are generally healthier than wage workers and that the selection of comparatively healthier individuals into self-employment accounts for the cross-sectional association. It presents tentative evidence that, if anything, engaging in self-employment is bad for one’s health. In addition, popular ideas that entrepreneurship is a particular good occupation for dyslectic and left-handed individuals could not be substantiated.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Thurik, Roy, Supervisor
  • Koellinger, Supervisor
  • Groenen, Patrick, Supervisor
  • Hofman, Bert, Supervisor
  • Bleichrodt, Han, Doctoral committee member
  • Tiemeier, Henning, Doctoral committee member
  • Webbink, Dinand, Doctoral committee member
Award date2 Oct 2014
Place of PublicationRotterdam
Print ISBNs9789058923677
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2014

Research programs

  • EUR ESE 31


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