Family Disadvantage, Gender and the Returns to Genetic Human Capital

36 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2020

See all articles by Victor Ronda

Victor Ronda

Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics

Abstract

This paper relies on a large-scale sample of genotyped individuals linked with detailed register data in Denmark to investigate the context-dependence of genetic influences on human capital formation. We show that the returns to genetic endowments, measured by a polygenic score for educational attainment, are significantly attenuated by childhood disadvantage. We replicate the findings in a within-family analysis, where we exploit exogenous genetic variation across siblings to control for unobserved family influences. We also explore gender differences in the context-dependence of genetic influences and find the attenuation effect of childhood disadvantage on educational attainment to be significantly stronger for males than for females. We show our findings extend to a representative sample of the Danish population. Our results highlight an important mechanism driving the persistence of disadvantage across generations. We show that children who experience childhood disadvantage are not able to fully realize their educational potential, even in the context of the generous Danish welfare-state.

JEL Classification: I1

Suggested Citation

Ronda, Victor, Family Disadvantage, Gender and the Returns to Genetic Human Capital. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13441, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3643205

Victor Ronda (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University Department of Economics ( email )

3400 Charles Stree
Baltimore, MA 21218-2685
United States

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