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Are we genetically destined to behave poorly, or can a well-designed policy and a nurturing environment prevail over our instincts? This paper analyzes the interplay of public policy and individuals' genetic endowments, demonstrating how people's genetic propensity to drink moderates their consumption behavior in response to changes in alcohol availability and licensing policy. We combine data from the UK Biobank with geo-coded data on pubs and retailers, as well as data on alcohol licensing from local authorities in England and Wales. This allows us to construct a fine-grained measure of local alcohol availability for each one of the approximately 500,000 participants in the UK Biobank. Our results show that individuals with a high genetic propensity to drink select into environments with easier access to alcohol, react less to changes in the availability of alcohol, and respond less to restrictive licensing. Thus, we show that a supply-focused licensing policy to mitigate alcohol abuse can clash with individual predispositions and might exacerbate genetic inequality, suggesting the need for a more targeted approach.
Pietro is an assistant professor of economics (RTDb) at the University of Bologna. He obtained his PhD in economics from the University of Chicago, and was UBS Foundation Assistant Professor of Applied Economics at the University of Zurich. He is a research affiliate at the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development at UZH, IZA, fRDB, HCEO, CHILD, CEPR, and CESifo. His research focuses on the early origins and life cycle evolution of health and human capital. He explores the importance of genetics, family investment, and early childhood interventions in explaining health and economic inequality. With his work, he aims to understand the mechanisms through which effective policy interventions and optimal choices of investment can help mitigate innate inequalities and promote health and human capital development. More broadly, he is interested in Health Economics, Applied Econometrics, and Social Science Genetics.