The Genetics of Success: How Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development.

Published

Journal Article

A previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) of more than 100,000 individuals identified molecular-genetic predictors of educational attainment. We undertook in-depth life-course investigation of the polygenic score derived from this GWAS using the four-decade Dunedin Study (N = 918). There were five main findings. First, polygenic scores predicted adult economic outcomes even after accounting for educational attainments. Second, genes and environments were correlated: Children with higher polygenic scores were born into better-off homes. Third, children's polygenic scores predicted their adult outcomes even when analyses accounted for their social-class origins; social-mobility analysis showed that children with higher polygenic scores were more upwardly mobile than children with lower scores. Fourth, polygenic scores predicted behavior across the life course, from early acquisition of speech and reading skills through geographic mobility and mate choice and on to financial planning for retirement. Fifth, polygenic-score associations were mediated by psychological characteristics, including intelligence, self-control, and interpersonal skill. Effect sizes were small. Factors connecting DNA sequence with life outcomes may provide targets for interventions to promote population-wide positive development.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Belsky, DW; Moffitt, TE; Corcoran, DL; Domingue, B; Harrington, H; Hogan, S; Houts, R; Ramrakha, S; Sugden, K; Williams, BS; Poulton, R; Caspi, A

Published Date

  • July 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 27 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 957 - 972

PubMed ID

  • 27251486

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27251486

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797616643070

Language

  • eng