Daniel J. Benjamin

Daniel J. Benjamin

Professor of Behavioral Economics and Genoeconomics
“In my research, I expand the boundaries of economics — for example, by quantitatively measuring a person’s well-being and using genomic data to enhance our understanding of behavior.”
Areas of Expertise:
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Genoeconomics




Daniel Benjamin is a tenured professor with joint appointments at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the Human Genetics Department at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He is a co-founder and co-director of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, a multidisciplinary enterprise that provides a platform for collaboration between geneticists and social scientists. 

Benjamin’s background is in behavioral economics, where his research incorporates ideas and methods from psychology into economic analysis. His research on genoeconomics develops tools for incorporating genomic data into the social sciences.

Benjamin’s research topics include: understanding errors people make in statistical reasoning; exploring how best to use survey measures of subjective well-being (such as happiness and life satisfaction) to track national well-being and evaluate policies; and identifying genetic variants associated with outcomes such as educational attainment and subjective well-being. His earlier work addressed how economic behavior relates to cognitive ability and social identity (ethnicity, race, gender and religion). 

Prior to joining UCLA, Benjamin was a faculty member at Cornell University and at the University of Southern California. He earned his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.



Ph.D. Economics, 2006, Harvard University

M.Sc. Mathematical Economics, 2000, London School of Economics

A.M. Statistics, 1999, Harvard University

A.B. Economics (summa cum laude), 1999, Harvard University


Selected Publications

Behavioral Economics

Benjamin, Daniel J., David I. Laibson, Walter Mischel, Philip K. Peake, Yuichi Shoda, Alexandra Steiny, and Nicole L. Wilson (forthcoming). “Predicting Mid-Life Capital Formation with Pre-School Delay of Gratification and Life-Course Measures of Self-Regulation.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. 

Benjamin, Daniel J., and James O. Berger (2019). “Three Recommendations for Improving the Use of p-Values.” The American Statistician, 73(sup1): 186-191.

Benjamin, Daniel J. (2019). "Errors in Probabilistic Reasoning and Judgment Biases." Chapter for the Handbook of Behavioral Economics (edited by Doug Bernheim, Stefano DellaVigna, and David Laibson). Elsevier Press. 

Benjamin, Daniel J., James O. Berger, Magnus Johannesson, Brian Nosek, Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, ..., Valen Johnson (2018). “Redefine Statistical Significance.” Nature Human Behaviour, 2(1): 6-10.

Benjamin, Daniel J., James J. Choi, and Geoffrey Fisher (2016). “Religious identity and economic behavior.” Review of Economics and Statistics, 98(4): 617-637. Lead article.

Benjamin, Daniel J., Ori Heffetz, Miles S. Kimball, and Nichole Szembrot (2014). “Beyond Happiness and Satisfaction: Toward Well-Being Indices Based on Stated Preference.” American Economic Review, 104(9), 2698-2735.

Benjamin, Daniel J., Ori Heffetz, Miles S. Kimball, and Alex Rees-Jones (2014). “Can Marginal Rates of Substitution Be Inferred From Happiness Data? Evidence from Residency Choices.” American Economic Review, 104(11), 3498-3528.

Benjamin, Daniel J., Sebastian A. Brown, and Jesse M. Shapiro (2013). “Who is ‘Behavioral’? Cognitive ability and anomalous preferences.” Journal of the European Economics Association, 11(6), 1231–1255. Lead Article. 

Benjamin, Daniel J., Ori Heffetz, Miles S. Kimball, and Alex Rees-Jones (2012). “What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?” American Economic Review, 102(5), 2083–2110.

Benjamin, Daniel J., James J. Choi, and A. Joshua Strickland (2010). “Social identity and preferences.” American Economic Review, 100(4), 1913–1928.



Meddens, S. Fleur W., Ronald de Vlaming, Peter Bowers, Casper A.P. Burik, Richard K. Linnér, Chanwook Lee, Aysu Okbay, Patrick Turley, …, Daniel J. Benjamin, Carson C. Chow, Philipp D. Koellinger (2020). “Genomic analysis of diet composition finds novel loci and associations with health and lifestyle.” Molecular Psychiatry. Published online May 11. doi.org/10.1038/s41380-020-0697-5.

Linnér, Richard K., Pietro Biroli, Edward Kong, S Fleur W Meddens, Robbee Wedow, Mark Alan Fontana, Maël Lebreton, …, Jacob Gratten, James J Lee, David Cesarini, Daniel J. Benjamin, Philipp Koellinger, Jonathan P. Beauchamp (2019). “Genome-wide association analyses of risk tolerance and risky behaviors in over 1 million individuals identify hundreds of loci and shared genetic influences." Nature Genetics, 51(2), 245-257. doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0309-3

Lee, James J., Robbee Wedow, Aysu Okbay, Edward Kong, Omeed Maghzian, Meghan Zacher, Tuan Anh Nguyen-Viet, Peter Bowers, ..., David I. Laibson, Jian Yang, Magnus Johannesson, Philipp D. Koellinger, Patrick Turley, Peter M. Visscher, Daniel J. Benjamin, and David Cesarini (2018). "Gene discovery and polygenic prediction from a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in 1.1 million individuals." Nature Genetics, 50, 1112-1121.

Turley, Patrick, Raymond K. Walters, Omeed Maghzian, Aysu Okbay, James J. Lee, Mark Alan Fontana, Tuan Anh Nguyen-Viet, Nicholas A. Furlotte, 23andMe Research Team, Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, Patrik Magnusson, Sven Oskarsson, Magnus Johannesson, Peter M. Visscher, David Laibson, David Cesarini, Benjamin Neale, and Daniel J. Benjamin (2018). “Multi-trait analysis of genome-wide association summary statistics using MTAG.” Nature Genetics, 50, 229-237. Published online January 1.

Linnér, Richard K., Riccardo E. Marioni, Cornelius A. Rietveld, …, George Davey Smith, Ian J. Deary, Philipp D. Koellinger, Daniel J. Benjamin (2017). “An epigenome-wide association study meta-analysis of educational attainment.” Molecular Psychiatry, 22: 1680-1690. Published online October 31.

Barban, Nicola, Rick Jansen, Ronald de Vlaming, Ahmad Vaez, Jornt Mandemakers, Felix C. Tropf, Xia Shen, James F Wilson, ..., James J. Lee, Daniel J. Benjamin, David Cesarini, Philipp D Koellinger, Marcel den Hoed, Harold Snieder, and Melinda C. Mills (2016). "Genome-wide analysis identifies 12 loci influencing human reproductive behavior," Nature Genetics, 48: 1462-1472. Published online October 31.

Okbay, Aysu, Jonathan P. Beauchamp, Mark A. Fontana, James J. Lee, Tune H. Pers, Cornelius A. Rietveld, Patrick Turley, Guo-Bo Chen, Valur Emilsson, S. Fleur W. Meddens, Sven Oskarsson, Joseph K. Pickrell, Kevin Thom, Pascal Timshel, Ronald de Vlaming, …, Jian Yang, Magnus Johannesson, Peter M. Visscher, Tõnu Esko, Philipp D. Koellinger, David Cesarini, Daniel J. Benjamin (2016). “Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment.” Nature, 533: 539-542. Published online May 11.

Okbay, Aysu, Bart M.L. Baselmans, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Patrick Turley, Michel G. Nivard, Mark Alan Fontana, S. Fleur W. Meddens, Richard Karlsson Linnér, Cornelius A. Rietveld, Jaime Derringer, Jacob Gratten, James J. Lee, Jimmy Z. Liu, Ronald de Vlaming, …, Jian Yang, Dalton C. Conley, George Davey Smith, Albert Hofman, Magnus Johannesson, David I. Laibson, Sarah E. Medland, Michelle N. Meyer, Joseph K. Pickrell, Tõnu Esko, Robert F. Krueger, Jonathan P. Beauchamp, Philipp D. Koellinger, Daniel J. Benjamin­, Meike Bartels, David Cesarini (2016). “Genetic variants associated with subjective well-being, depressive symptoms and neuroticism identified through genome-wide analyses.” Nature Genetics, 48: 624-633. Published online April 18.

Rietveld, Cornelius A., Sarah E. Medland, Jaime Derringer, Jian Yang, Tõnu Esko, Nicolas W. Martin, Harm-Jan Westra, Konstantin Shakhbazov, …, Dalton Conley, George Davey-Smith, Lude Franke, Patrick J. F. Groenen, Albert Hofman, Magnus Johannesson, Sharon L.R. Kardia, Robert F. Krueger, David Laibson, Nicholas G. Martin, Michelle N. Meyer, Danielle Posthuma, A. Roy Thurik, Nicholas J. Timpson, André G. Uitterlinden, Cornelia M. van Duijn, Peter M. Visscher, Daniel J. Benjamin, David Cesarini, and Philipp D. Koellinger (2013). “GWAS of 126,559 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with educational attainment.” Science, 340(6139), 1467–71.

Chabris, Christopher F., Benjamin M. Hebert, Daniel J. Benjamin, Jonathan P. Beauchamp, David Cesarini, Matthijs J.H.M. van der Loos, Magnus Johannesson, Patrik K.E. Magnusson, Paul Lichtenstein, Craig S. Atwood, Jeremy Freese, Taissa S. Hauser, Robert M. Hauser, Nicholas A. Christakis, and David Laibson (2012). “Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives.” Psychological Science, 23(11), 1314–1323. doi:10.1177/0956797611435528

Benjamin, Daniel J., David Cesarini, Christopher F. Chabris, Edward L. Glaeser, David I. Laibson, Vilmundur Guðnason, Tamara B. Harris, Lenore J. Launer, Shaun Purcell, Albert Vernon Smith, Magnus Johannesson, Patrik K.E. Magnusson, Jonathan P. Beauchamp, Nicholas A. Christakis, Craig S. Atwood, Benjamin Hebert, Jeremy Freese, Robert M. Hauser, Taissa S. Hauser, Alexander Grankvist, Christina M. Hultman, and Paul Lichtenstein (2012). “The Promises and Pitfalls of Genoeconomics.” Annual Review of Economics, 4, 627–662.

Benjamin, Daniel J., Christopher F. Chabris, Edward L. Glaeser, Vilmundur Gudnason, Tamara B. Harris, David I. Laibson, Lenore Launer, and Shaun Purcell (2007). “Genoeconomics.” In Weinstein, Maxine, James W. Vaupel, and Kenneth W. Wachter (eds.), Biosocial Surveys. Committee on Population, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.