The genetics of life course outcomes: Leveraging new methods to advance social-science genomics

Why are some people more highly educated, healthier and, in general, happier than others? Understanding the origins of social and economic inequalities in life course outcomes between individuals is fundamental to the social sciences. Recent research demonstrates that these complex social traits, apart from environmental determinants, are also influenced by genetics. Moreover, it is likely that the genetic influences vary across social circumstances: genes and environment interact.

This project aims at developing an international and interdisciplinary research environment at the forefront of social science genomics. By leveraging the increasing availability of genetic data combined with register and survey data, we intend to increase the understanding of three broad classes of life course outcomes: (i) education and labor market outcomes, (ii) social and political behaviors and (iii) health-related behaviors and outcomes.

The project has three aims. First, we will perform genome-wide association studies of several new outcomes. Second, to reduce barriers to entry for researchers in the wider social science field interested in using genomic data in their research, we will construct a repository for polygenic scores for several major social-scientific surveys. Third, we intend to maintain and develop this interdisciplinary research environment by providing opportunities for a number of postdocs and PhD students to establish themselves in the social genomic research field.


Principal Investigator: Sven Oskarsson (Department of Government) 

Period: 2020–2024

Funding: SEK 13 million from the Swedish Research Council and SEK 5,8 million from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond

Research team

Rafael Ahlskog, PhD, Uppsala University

Aysu Okbay, Assistant Professor, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Daniel Benjamin, Associate Professor, University of Southern California

Magnus Johannesson, Professor, Stockholm School of Economics 

David Cesarini, Associate Professor, New York University

Patrick Turley, Assistant Professor, Massachusetts General Hospital & Broad Institute

Christopher Dawes, Associate professor, New York University

Qinya Feng, PhD Student, Uppsala University