Mental Health, Schooling Attainment and Polygenic Scores: Are There Significant Gene-Environment Associations?

31 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2019

See all articles by Vikesh Amin

Vikesh Amin

Central Michigan University

Jere Behrman

University of Pennsylvania

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Carlos A. Flores

University of Miami

Alfonso Flores-Lagunes

Syracuse University--Economics; Syracuse University--CPR; IZA, Bonn

Hans-Peter Kohler

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Sociology

Abstract

It is well-established that (1) there is a large genetic component to mental health, and (2) higher schooling attainment is associated with better mental health. Given these two observations, we test the hypothesis that schooling may attenuate the genetic predisposition to poor mental health. Specifically, we estimate associations between a polygenic score (PGS) for depressive symptoms, schooling attainment and gene-environment (GxE) interactions with mental health (depressive symptoms and depression), in two distinct United States datasets at different adult ages- 29 years old in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and 54 years old in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS).OLS results indicate that the association of the PGS with mental health is similar in Add Health and the WLS, but the association of schooling attainment is much larger in Add Health than in the WLS. There is some suggestive evidence that the association of the PGS with mental health is lower for more-schooled older individuals in the WLS, but there is no evidence of any significant GxE associations in Add Health.Quantile regression estimates also show that in the WLS the GxE associations are statistically significant only in the upper parts of the conditional depressive symptoms score distribution. We assess the robustness of the OLS results to omitted variable bias by using the siblings samples in both datasets to estimate sibling fixed-effect regressions. The sibling fixed-effect results must be qualified, in part due to low statistical power. However, the sibling fixed-effect estimates show that college education is associated with fewer depressive symptoms in both datasets.

Keywords: schooling, mental health, genetics, gene-environment interactions

JEL Classification: I21, I10

Suggested Citation

Amin, Vikesh and Behrman, Jere and Fletcher, Jason M. and Flores, Carlos A. and Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso and Kohler, Hans-Peter, Mental Health, Schooling Attainment and Polygenic Scores: Are There Significant Gene-Environment Associations?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 12452. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3415797

Vikesh Amin (Contact Author)

Central Michigan University

Jere Behrman

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

Carlos A. Flores

University of Miami ( email )

Coral Gables, FL 33124
United States

Alfonso Flores-Lagunes

Syracuse University--Economics ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244-1020
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/econ/cpr/Alfonso_Flores_Lagunes/

Syracuse University--CPR ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/econ/cpr/Alfonso_Flores_Lagunes/

IZA, Bonn ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/profile?key=2305

Hans-Peter Kohler

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Sociology ( email )

3718 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7686 (Phone)
215-898-2124 (Fax)

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