A Genome-Wide Association Study of Educational Attainment

46 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2010

See all articles by Jonathan Beauchamp

Jonathan Beauchamp

University of Toronto

David Cesarini

New York University (NYU); IFN

Matthijs J. H. M. van der Loos

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Applied Economics; Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM); Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE)

Philipp Koellinger

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Patrick J. F. Groenen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Niels J. Rosenquist

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Roy Thurik

Montpellier Business School; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Centre for Advanced Small Business Economics (CASBEC); Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM); EIM Netherlands - Business and Policy Research; Tinbergen Institute

Nicholas A. Christakis

Harvard University - Department of Health Care Policy

Date Written: July 28, 2010

Abstract

Twin and adoption studies have consistently found that genetic variation is an important source of heterogeneity in economic outcomes such as educational attainment and income. The advent of inexpensive, genome-wide scans is now making it increasingly feasible to directly examine specific genetic variants that predict individual differences. In this paper, we conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of educational achievement. In the first stage, we used data on over 360,000 genetic markers throughout the genome from the Framingham Heart Study, a family-based sample of nearly 8,500 individuals, and found a number of markers with suggestive associations with educational attainment. The most promising variants were significant at the 5⋅10⁻⁷ level. In the second stage, we attempted to replicate the most significant first-stage associations using data from the Rotterdam study, an independent sample of over 9,500 individuals. None of the first-stage associations replicated, suggesting that the first-stage results were false positives. We discuss the challenges that arise when doing inference in genoeconomics research, emphasizing the importance of properly correcting for multiple hypothesis testing and of replicating significant results in independent samples. We also discuss issues of power and sample size. We argue that if proper attention is given to these methodological challenges, the burgeoning field of genoeconomics will add a valuable new dimension to our understanding of heterogeneity in economic outcomes.

Keywords: Education, Genetics and Economics, Genoeconomics, GWAS

Suggested Citation

Beauchamp, Jonathan and Cesarini, David and van der Loos, Matthijs J. H. M. and Koellinger, Philipp and Groenen, Patrick J. F. and Fowler, James H. and Rosenquist, Niels J. and Thurik, Roy and Christakis, Nicholas A., A Genome-Wide Association Study of Educational Attainment (July 28, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1655023 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1655023

Jonathan Beauchamp (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

150 St-George St
Toronto, Ontario M5S3G7
Canada

David Cesarini

New York University (NYU) ( email )

19 W 4th Street
6FL
New York, NY 10012
United States

IFN ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Matthijs J. H. M. Van der Loos

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Department of Applied Economics ( email )

Netherlands

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA
Netherlands

Philipp Koellinger

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.philipp-koellinger.com

Patrick J. F. Groenen

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam, NL 3062 PA
Netherlands

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Niels J. Rosenquist

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Roy Thurik

Montpellier Business School

France

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Centre for Advanced Small Business Economics (CASBEC) ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands
+31 10 408 2232 (Phone)
+31 10 408 9146 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.thurik.com

Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

EIM Netherlands - Business and Policy Research

Postbus 7001
2701 AA Zoetermeer
Netherlands
+31 79 341 3634 (Phone)
+31 79 331 3742 (Fax)

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Nicholas A. Christakis

Harvard University - Department of Health Care Policy ( email )

25 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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