30 October 2023

Genes, leadership and monarchy

The idea that ability is partly inherited continues to be controversial, for reasons that seem to have more to do with ideology than scientific evidence.

If ability does in general have a heritable component, this would go some way towards explaining the existence of social classes.

Hereditary monarchy was for many centuries the most common form of political system, and the heritability of talents may help to explain this.

In 2013, researchers at University College London published evidence that leadership ability does have a genetic basis. Jan-Emmanuel De Neve at the UCL School of Public Policy commented as follows on the paper* by him and his colleagues which appeared in The Leadership Quarterly:
We have identified a genotype called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations [...] The conventional wisdom — that leadership is a skill — remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait.

* Here is a link to the full paper: