Martin Isungset: "Social and genetic effects on educational performance in early adolescence"
In this working paper, Martin Isungset and co-authors assess and disentangle the relative importance of genetics and social background for children’s standardized academic test scores.
Research into the intergenerational transmission of educational advantage has long been criticized for not paying sufficient attention to genetics. This study by Isungset and colleagues is based on the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and administrative register data on 25000 genotyped Norwegian children and their parents. They assess and disentangle the relative importance of genetics and social background for children’s standardized academic test scores. Norway offers a particularly interesting context for intergenerational transmission, as the welfare state and educational system is designed to provide equal opportunity structures for children. The results point to genetics only confounding the parent status-offspring achievement relationship to a small degree, to ‘genetic nurture’ effects being small, and pro-vide no evidence of neither Scarr-Rowe interactions in test scores nor parent-child genotype interactions. Even in a universal welfare state with relatively low levels of inequality, there are two systems of ascription, one genetic and one social, and these are largely independent of each other.