PhD Defence Eric Slob


In his dissertation ‘Integrating Genetics into Economics’, Eric Slob developed and compared some methods that can be used in genoeconomics, and showed through empirical studies how genetically informed study designs can give new insights to economists. The methods developed and compared in this dissertation foster the use of genes as instrumental variables and help further the understanding of genetic relationships across socio-economically relevant characteristics. The main empirical applications in this dissertations concern smoking behaviour, entrepreneurship, and the structure of the brain. Eric has defended his dissertation on Friday, 19 February at 13:00h. His supervisors were Prof. Roy Thurik (ESE), Prof. Patrick Groenen (ESE) and Dr Niels Rietveld. Other members of the Doctoral Committee were Prof. Dennis Fok (ESE), Prof. Stephanie von Hinke (ESE and University of Bristol), Prof. Hans van Kippersluis (ESE), Dr Sonja Swanson (Erasmus Medical Centre) and Dr Stephen Burgess (University of Cambridge).

About Eric Slob

Eric Arsène Willem Slob was born on the 7th of April in 1994 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. In 2016, he obtained the degree of Master of Science (MSc) in Econometrics and Management Science at the Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

In 2016, Eric started as a Ph.D. candidate under the supervision of professor Dr. Patrick J.F. Groenen, Dr. Cornelius A. Rietveld, professor Dr. A. Roy Thurik. He carried out his research within the Department of Applied Economics at the Erasmus School of Economics as a member of the Erasmus Research Institute of Management and the Erasmus University Rotterdam Institute for Behavior and Biology. In 2018 Eric visited the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit at the University of Cambridge for a period of three months. During his research visit he was supervised by professor Dr. Stephen Burgess.

Eric’s research focuses on the methodological integration of genetics into economics. His work has been published in the following peer-reviewed journals: International Journal of Epidemiology, Genetic Epidemiology, and Small Business Economics. He has presented his work, amongst others, at meetings of the Behavior Genetics Association, and the Mendelian Randomization conference. Eric will continue his career as a research associate at the University of Cambridge.

Thesis Abstract

The massive increase in sample size of genetic cohorts, combined with an increase in the collection of data on social-scientific outcomes in these datasets, has made it possible to study many socio-economically relevant individual characteristics from a genetics perspective. In economics, the subfield that studies the genetic architecture of socioeconomic outcomes and preferences is often called genoeconomics. Ultimately, genoeconomics can help economics in four different ways: genes can be used as measures of previous latent variables, genes can uncover biological mechanisms, genes can be used as control variables or instrumental variables, and genes can be used to target policy interventions. In this thesis, I develop and compare some methods that can be used in genoeconomics, and I show through empirical studies how genetically informed study designs can give new insights to economists. The methods developed and compared in this thesis foster the use of genes as instrumental variables and help further the understanding of genetic relationships across socio-economically relevant characteristics. The main empirical applications in this thesis concern smoking behaviour, entrepreneurship, and the structure of the brain.

View photos of Eric's defence

Photos: Chris Gorzeman / Capital Images