Social and Genetic Effects on Educational Performance in Early Adolescence

29 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2021 Last revised: 7 Jun 2021

See all articles by Martin Isunget

Martin Isunget

University of Oslo

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Henrik Zachrisson

University of Oslo

Eivind Ystrom

Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Department of Mental Disorders; University of Oslo

Alexandra Havdahl

Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Department of Mental Disorders

Pål R. Njølstad

University of Bergen - KG Jebsen Centre for Diabetes Research

Torkild Lyngstad

Department of Sociology and Human Geography; Statistics Norway - Research Department

Date Written: February 2021

Abstract

Research into the intergenerational transmission of educational advantage has long been criticized for not paying sufficient attention to genetics. This study is based on the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) and administrative register data on 25000 genotyped Norwegian children and their parents. We assess and disentangle the relative importance of genetics and social background for children’s standardized academic test scores. Norway offers a particularly interesting context for intergenerational transmission, as the welfare state and educational system is designed to provide equal opportunity structures for children. The results point to genetics only confounding the parent status-offspring achievement relationship to a small degree, to ‘genetic nurture’ effects being small, and pro-vide no evidence of neither Scarr-Rowe interactions in test scores nor parent-child genotype interactions. Even in a universal welfare state with relatively low levels of inequality, there are two systems of ascription, one genetic and one social, and these are largely independent of each other.

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Suggested Citation

Isunget, Martin and Conley, Dalton and Zachrisson, Henrik and Ystrom, Eivind and Havdahl, Alexandra and Njølstad, Pål R. and Lyngstad, Torkild, Social and Genetic Effects on Educational Performance in Early Adolescence (February 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w28498, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3795017

Martin Isunget (Contact Author)

University of Oslo

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317
Norway

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology ( email )

New York, NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Henrik Zachrisson

University of Oslo

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317
Norway

Eivind Ystrom

Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Department of Mental Disorders

Oslo
Norway

University of Oslo

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317
Norway

Alexandra Havdahl

Norwegian Institute of Public Health - Department of Mental Disorders

Oslo
Norway

Pål R. Njølstad

University of Bergen - KG Jebsen Centre for Diabetes Research ( email )

Bergen
Norway

Torkild Lyngstad

Department of Sociology and Human Geography ( email )

Moltke Moesvei 31
Oslo, 0851
Norway

HOME PAGE: http://folk.uio.no/torkildl

Statistics Norway - Research Department ( email )

Kongens Gt. 6
PO Box 8131 Dep
N-0033 Oslo
Norway

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