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Robust genetic nurture effects on education: A systematic review and meta-analysis based on 38,654 families across 8 cohorts

journal contribution
posted on 2021-11-09, 12:22 authored by B Wang, JR Baldwin, T Schoeler, R Cheesman, W Barkhuizen, F Dudbridge, D Bann, TT Morris, JB Pingault
Similarities between parents and offspring arise from nature and nurture. Beyond this simple dichotomy, recent genomic studies have uncovered “genetic nurture” effects, whereby parental genotypes influence offspring outcomes via environmental pathways rather than genetic transmission. Such genetic nurture effects also need to be accounted for to accurately estimate “direct” genetic effects (i.e., genetic effects on a trait originating in the offspring). Empirical studies have indicated that genetic nurture effects are particularly relevant to the intergenerational transmission of risk for child educational outcomes, which are, in turn, associated with major psychological and health milestones throughout the life course. These findings have yet to be systematically appraised across contexts. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantify genetic nurture effects on educational outcomes. A total of 12 studies comprising 38,654 distinct parent(s)-offspring pairs or trios from 8 cohorts reported 22 estimates of genetic nurture effects. Genetic nurture effects on offspring's educational outcomes (βgenetic nurture = 0.08, 95% CI [0.07, 0.09]) were smaller than direct genetic effects (βdirect genetic = 0.17, 95% CI [0.13, 0.20]). Findings were largely consistent across studies. Genetic nurture effects originating from mothers and fathers were of similar magnitude, highlighting the need for a greater inclusion of fathers in educational research. Genetic nurture effects were largely explained by observed parental education and socioeconomic status, pointing to their role in environmental pathways shaping child educational outcomes. Findings provide consistent evidence that environmentally mediated parental genetic influences contribute to the intergenerational transmission of educational outcomes, in addition to effects due to genetic transmission.

Funding

Nuffield Foundation project (EDO/43939)

Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Wellcome fellowship (215917/Z/19/Z)

Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Wellcome fellowship (218641/Z/19/Z)

Economic and Social Research Council (ES/M001660/1)

Medical Research Council (MR/V002147/1)

F.D. is a consultant for University College London funded by the Nuffield Foundation project

History

Citation

American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 108, Issue 9, 2 September 2021, Pages 1780-1791

Author affiliation

Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester

Version

  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

American Journal of Human Genetics

Volume

108

Issue

9

Pagination

1780 - 1791

Publisher

Elsevier

issn

0002-9297

eissn

1537-6605

Acceptance date

2021-07-21

Copyright date

2021

Available date

2022-02-19

Language

eng

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