Scientist Study: “Attitude to Saving is in the Genes”

March 11, 2015

A new study has suggested that the savings habits we display over our life time, for better or worse, have almost as much to do with our respective genetic makeups as with good or bad judgement.

Scientists writing in a paper published in the Journal of Political Economy recently make the case that some of us are more inclined to save our money rather than spend it in large part because of the way our genes are put together.

The research behind the eyebrow-raising study involved groups of identical and non-identical twins, with the behaviours of people in a wide variety of different financial positions and backgrounds coming under scrutiny.

According to the results of the study, roughly a third of our behaviours when it comes to financial decision-making are based on natural factors and our genetically-determined instincts.

Interestingly, the study concluded that, while parental influences are very strong in terms of influencing the saving habits and attitudes of children, these effects wear off over time and other factors become much more impacting by the time we reach adulthood.

“Savings behaviour is genetically correlated with income growth, smoking, and obesity, suggesting that the genetic component of savings behaviour reflects genetic variation in time preferences or self-control,” researchers Henrik Cronqvist from the China Europe International Business School and Stephen Siegel from the University of Washington wrote in the opening to their recent study.

In making their case, the researchers pointed out that there is always a very wide variation in the scale of funds different individuals are able to save for retirement, even among those with very similar resources, backgrounds and lifestyles.

In order to carry out their enquires, the researchers looked closely at data relating to a large number of identical and non-identical twins taken from the Swedish Twins Registry between 2003 and 2007.

The data was informative on the subject of savings habits and its potential links to genetics primarily because identical twins share 100 per cent of the same genes, while non-identical twins have 50 per cent of the same genes as they go through life.

For twins and non-twins alike in the UK, the issue of savings and personal financial habits has become a high-profile issue in early 2015 with a raft of new pension-related freedoms set to be introduced nationwide in the coming weeks.





John Baird

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 0800 063 9250

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