An ERC Starting Grant (€ 1,500,000) has been awarded to Niels Rietveld
Niels Rietveld, Associate Professor at Erasmus School of Economics and Executive Director of the Erasmus University Rotterdam Institute for Behavior and Biology (EURIBEB), has been awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council.
Niels Rietveld received the grant for his project "Genes, Policy, and Social Inequality". Many important indicators of social status (such as one’s level of education, occupation, and income) have been shown to be moderately heritable, meaning that a part of the variation in social status can be explained by genetic differences across population members. Niels Rietveld (with his co-authors) has been able to identify, for the first time, specific genetic variants that are robustly associated with such an indicator, namely educational attainment (Rietveld et al., 2013, Science). By methodologically advancing the estimation of the interaction between genes and environments, this research project aims to settle two long lasting debates in social science genetics. First, Rietveld aims to show how heritability studies –despite earlier firm rejections of this position– can be informative for policies aiming to reduce social inequalities. Second, he will assess the critique that social science genetics attributes effects to genes which should be attributed to the environments individuals live in.