Tina Baier and Torkild Lyngstad: "An Anatomy of the Intergenerational Correlation of Educational Attainment"

In this working paper, Tina Baier, Torkild Lyngstad and co-authors address a shortcoming in previous research on intergenerational correlation of educational attainment, by adopting a Multiple-Children-of-Twin design and decompose the ICE into its environmental and genetic transmission mechanisms.

SocArxiv. Open Archive of the Social Sciences


Research on the intergenerational correlation of educational attainment (ICE) has long attempted to identify the impact of family background, specifically parent’s education. However, previous research has largely ignored genetic inheritance. Baier, Lyngstad and co-authors address this shortcoming by adopting a Multiple-Children-of-Twin design and  decompose the ICE into its environmental and genetic transmission mechanisms.

This decomposition reveals to what extent the impact of parents’ education operates through the rearing context and/or genetic factors. They use a register-based dataset from Norway, a context with egalitarian access to education. Their results show that the direct impact of parents’ education is negligible once genetic factors are accounted for. While genetic factors represent the main driver of the ICE, the genetic variants that mattered for educational attainment in the parent generation overlap only partially with those that mattered for their offspring’s attainment. Together, their findings complement common sociological narratives on how parent’s education affects offspring’s education by emphasizing the role of genetic transmission. Furthermore, their study challenges current research practices in genetics that overlook the importance of parallel changes in social structures and gene-expression over generations.

Read the working paper. 

Tags: genetics, education, socio-economic background
Published Feb. 14, 2022 2:26 PM - Last modified Feb. 25, 2022 2:09 PM