Genetic link to credit card debt

A person's genetic make-up may influence the likelihood of them running up debt, a study has found.

Possessing a gene linked with impulsive and addictive behaviour makes people up to 16 per cent more likely to have credit card debt, researchers from the London School of Economics and the University of California discovered.

The gene – MAOA – is linked with neurotransmitters which affect mood, and can be either "efficient" or "inefficient" at controlling mood chemicals.

Everyone has a pair of the genes: those with one "inefficient" MAOA gene were found to be 8 per cent more likely to have credit card debt than those with none, and for those with two the likelihood increased by 16 per cent. Half of the 2,500 people surveyed had at least one of the "inefficient" MAOA genes.