CONPOL PI Sven Oskarsson together with CONPOL member Rafael Ahlskog received a 5.8 MSEK grant from RJ (the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation) for a project with the title: “Nature via Nurture: Using novel methods to shed new light on how gene-environment interactions shape social, economic and political attitudes and behavior”. The project revolves around fundamental about the origins of social, economic and political inequalities in life course outcomes between individuals. Why are some people more likely to be highly educated, end up in high status jobs, be healthier and live longer, be more politically engaged, and, in general, happier than others? Recent interdisciplinary research suggests that complex human behaviors and life chances may be shaped by an intricate interplay between genes and environment. However, the knowledge of how these so called gene-by-environment interactions actually work is limited: what genetic factors interact with what social, economic and political factors, and how? The dearth of stable and reproducible progress in this area has in large parts been due to two severe problems: limitations in the available scientific methods and shortage of adequate data. In this project we intend to overcome these problems by making use of recent innovations in molecular genetics and methodological advances in the social sciences in combination with unique Swedish register data. Thus, the goal of the project is to investigate in a robust and credible way how gene-environment interactions shape social, economic, and political attitudes and behavior. In the end, a more solid foundation for the research on gene-environment interactions can also aid in developing more effective policies that deal with the social roots and consequences of inequality. You can find more information about the project here.
The project is closely related to some of the major themes in the CONPOL framework, especially questions regarding how political engagement is shaped within the family context, and will be carried out in collaboration with several of the CONPOL team members.