What do the richest people in the world have in common? A study from the University of Edinburgh has come to an interesting conclusion: these people may share the same genes of wealth. A team led by David Hill looked into the UK Biobank database, which contains over 500,000 genetic profiles of people living in the UK, to try to find commonalities between wealth and DNA. This is an unusual study, and to the best of our knowledge, the first that has been done of this kind.
The study involved taking 286,000 people in the UK Biobank and then dividing them automatically according to income level. For people with lower income, Hill found that there were less advantageous genetic variants, while in the wealthiest group he found several commonalities that could be attributed to a higher level of intelligence. The question is whether that is enough to determine that DNA and wealth are closely correlated.
One of the issues with this study, as mentioned by Julien Larregue, is that it is hard to exactly define the concept of intelligence and that there are many factors that go into someone’s income level. After all, the same person with the same DNA may easily earn differently if they were born in a different country or had a difficult upbringing.
The closest study we found to Hill’s study (where researchers linked income to some other trait) was this one led by Philipp Koellinger, where more than 800,000 people were analyzed to try to calculate someone’s income based on job type, age and sex. But as far as determining with definite certainty whether DNA will influence income, there is just the 1 study for now.