Understanding the Education Polygenic Score and Its Interactions with SES in Determining Health in Young Adulthood
41 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2019 Last revised: 2 Mar 2020
Date Written: February 28, 2020
We investigate the education polygenic score (PGS), an index based on genetic data that predicts years of formal education. Based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, we find that an education PGS has a beneficial effect on multiple health-related outcomes in young adulthood both indirectly though education and directly. In addition, we find that socioeconomic status (SES) moderates the relationship between the PGS and health outcomes so that individuals with particularly low SES typically do not experience health benefits from the education PGS. We decompose the effect of the PGS with respect to education, early health, and cognitive and noncognitive skills and find that the beneficial effects of PGS work through formal education, early health, and early skills, among other channels. Finally, after controlling for education PGS and unobserved heterogeneity on top of more traditional controls, we still find that education is associated with better health outcomes, which adds evidence to the debate about the causal link between education and health.
Keywords: Education PGS, SES, gene-environment interaction, health, health-related outcomes
JEL Classification: I12, I14, I24, J24
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