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Is Wealth Genetic?

Wealth

Depending on where you stand in the ancestral hierarchy, you will either be elated or thoroughly depressed to learn that a new study says that wealth and success are … genetic. So much for nature, nurture and the complex interplay of a million variables. Our ability to make smart financial decisions and build a fortune over a lifetime comes down to our DNA, according to researchers from Edinburgh University’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing.

While the paper has yet to be published, British media have been given snippets, and one of the key takeaways is that there are 24 key genes that define whether a person will loaded with cash or searching for coins under the couch cushions.  

After studying the genomes of 286,000 Britons for differences in DNA between those with household incomes of £100,000 or more and those with lower incomes.

“These results are important for understanding socioeconomic inequalities in Great Britain today,” according to the researchers cited by British media.

In other words, what they wish to say is that inequality is not explicitly caused by unfair social systems--it’s built into our DNA.

The key, of course, is intelligence, and the study found that three-quarters of the 24 genes are linked to intelligence. Dubbed the “golden genes”, in addition to intelligence, the 24 affect the immune system and even muscle and heart strength, with the research determining that these are the difference between wealth and poverty.

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"Genetic variants associated with higher income correlate with a genetic predisposition for greater intelligence, a longer lifespan, better physical and mental health, fewer feelings of tiredness, having fewer children and better living conditions," the researchers say.

A Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) from last year, featuring researchers from Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, found something similar. That study said that social mobility was partially written into our genes. The study followed more than 20,000 individuals from Britain, New Zealand and the United States from childhood into adulthood.

It’s all about the “polygenic” score: a genetic risk score.

People with a high polygenic score tend to do fare in life in terms of education, occupation and wealth, compared with their parents and siblings--and regardless of class. At the same time, that study showed that people with a high genetic score for education also tend to come from more affluent homes.

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The idea that genes play a major role in education was also brought up last October by researchers at King’s College London, who said their study was the first to show genetic influence on higher education results. The study showed that genes have a significant impact on everything from our choice of university to attend to how well will do once we get there.

The researchers found that 46 percent of achievements at university depended on DNA, while the rest of the variation in results could be attributed to environments, quality of schooling and parents’ wealth.

Confronted with all known factors, genetics has overwhelmed many other environmental factors that could lead us to success.

If you were wondering which quality will take you fastest to the top of the success rate, obviously you have to look for the answer in the family tree and prevailing genes. In other words, it’s divine inequality.

By David Craggen for Safehaven.com

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