Dr. Belsky and colleagues matched the genotypes of Dunedin Study participants with the genome-wide associations with educational attainment that had been reported previously. The results revealed that genetic links with educational attainment predict outcomes that go well beyond the completion of schooling, as Dr. Belsky and colleagues hypothesized.
Details of the Duke study appeared June 1 in the journal Psychological Science, in an article entitled, “The Genetics of Success: How Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development.” The study reported five main findings.
1. Polygenic scores predicted adult economic outcomes, even after accounting for educational attainments.
2. Genes and environments were correlated: Children with higher polygenic scores were born into better-off homes.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Polygenic-score associations were mediated by psychological characteristics, including intelligence, self-control, and interpersonal skill.