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Genetic and labor market influences on health over the life cycle - PRIN PNRR 2022

Progetti nazionali
Programma di ricerca
30/11/2023 - 29/11/2025
Silvia Mendolia

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Descrizione del progetto

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Health inequality starts at conception and grows over the life cycle. These inequalities in mental and physical health arise due to a combination of nature and nurture, where genetics may either mitigate or reinforce the impact of the environment. This project combines methods from genetics and economics to study how the interaction between individuals’ genetic endowments and their environment (gene-environment interactions, GxE) affects health outcomes throughout the life span. To measure genes, we will use recent Genome-Wide Association Studies to construct robust quantitative measures of genetic predisposition based on millions of genetic markers, called polygenic indexes. As measures of the environment, we will focus on two of the main contributors to health inequality in adulthood which are access to healthcare and challenging labor market conditions. For health care, we will leverage the expansion of Medicaid in the United States and the introduction of the universal National Health Service in the United Kingdom, two of the largest health care policies to date. Challenging labour market conditions will be proxied by automation which is the technological process of production where workers’ tasks are replaced by industrial robots. Exposure to these environments at different stages of life will allow to identify sensitive periods that determine health outcomes, and to test whether the GxE effect is short- or long-lasting. We will focus on an extensive set of primary health outcomes (hospitalization, mental health, physical health, self-reported medical conditions, and biomarkers), as well as, on secondary outcomes (cognitive function, education, income, employment and working conditions). This project will identify the causal effect of the environment exploiting natural experiments, causality being key to devising policy. It will also examine the effects of such environmental shocks on a biological measure of health, epigenetic methylation, to understand which stressors induce a faster pace of aging and if there is scope to slow down senescing and health decline. Mapping how genes interact with the environment may have profound consequences for our understanding of innate and economic inequality. This project could help identify interventions that reduce health disparities and improve human wellbeing throughout the life course.


Ultimo aggiornamento: 25/03/2024 10:04
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