ERC Starting Grant for applied economist Niels Rietveld

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Dr Niels Rietveld of Erasmus School of Economics an ERC Starting Grant. The ERC Starting Grant of 1.5 million euros is awarded to talented early-career researchers (2-7 years of experience since completion of PhD) who have a scientific track record that shows great promise and have the potential to be a true research leader in their respective field. This grant enables Niels Rietveld to conduct his groundbreaking research for the coming five years.

Niels Rietveld: ‘I am very grateful for being awarded this grant. I have been working on the grant’s topic for ten years now, but there is still so much to find out about how genes and environments shape our lives. With its openness for interdisciplinary research, Erasmus School of Economics and the Department of Applied Economics are the perfect place to execute this project.’

Patrick Groenen, Dean Erasmus School of Economics: ‘Niels Rietveld has been at the forefront of the new research field of genoeconomics and has pushed it forward. The ERC recognises Niels’ great talent by awarding him the Starting Grant.”

Adhemare de Rijk, Funding Manager Research: ‘Niels is always incredibly enthusiastic about his research endeavors, and this shines through in his dedication and results. Obtaining an ERC Starting Grant is a clear sign of his excellence and ability to develop innovative research. I am very proud of Niels for this extraordinary achievement.’

Short summary of Niels Rietveld’s ERC Starting Grant project

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.

About Niels Rietveld

Niels Rietveld is Associate Professor at the department of Applied Economics and Executive Director of the Erasmus University Rotterdam Institute for Behavior and Biology (EURIBEB), a collaboration between Erasmus School of Economics, Erasmus Medical Centre, and Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. This ERC Starting Grant follows earlier recognition for his research. For example, in 2015 he obtained an NWO Veni grant, and in 2016 he won the Research Award from Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Young Research Award from Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM). He is also currently involved in a project funded by the New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE).

More information

For more information, please contact Ronald de Groot, Media and Public Relations Officer at Erasmus School of Economics:, mobile phone: +31 6 53641 846.

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