My twin makes risky choices too

Jerome Kerviel probably isn’t going to get another job as a trader for a while. Banks might also want to think twice about employing any of his siblings – or at least read this rather interesting paper from Sweden’s Institute for Financial Research.

These researchers looked at the investment choices of identical and fraternal twins, using data from the Swedish Twin Registry, apparently the world’s largest database of twins. This is the sort of thing that makes me glad not to be Swedish Twin. They find that identical twins are much more similar in their investment choices compared to fraternal twins. (Among fraternal twins, same-sex twins display more similar choices).

When I read about studies based on twins that try to estimate the impact of genetics on personality traits, I always wonder whether parents treat identical twins differently to fraternal twins, so that what might look like a genetic factor may just be something to do with upbringing. The researchers address this question by looking at twins who were brought up apart (perhaps these twins were reunited later in life by the mysterious and all-knowing Swedish Twin Registry). Even these twins displayed similar investment behaviour, lending more support to the idea that genes play a role.

By contrast, family upbringing plays a part for young individuals, but apparently disappears over time. Genetic screening of potential bankers, anybody?

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