The contextual heritability of life course transitions to adulthood and SES


Roos, J. Micah & Nielsen, Francois (2014). The contextual heritability of life course transitions to adulthood and SES. 2014 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


We use DeFriese-Fulker (1985) analysis (DF) to estimate univariate quantitative genetic decompositions for 15 educational and socioeconomic outcomes related to life course transitions to adulthood and socioeconomic status, both with and without fixed effects (FE) controls for age, female gender, and race/ethnicity (white ref., black, Hispanic, other). We also compute a measure of familiality (half the heritability plus the shared environment) that reflects predicted resemblance between ordinary siblings on the trait. We find that: (1) FE control does not affect estimates of heritability (a^2), significantly decreases estimates of the shared environment (c^2) and significantly increases the non-shared component (e^2); (2) c^2 represents a significantly greater share of familiality for outcomes related to formation of the family (household income, household wealth, home ownership), although overall familiality is low for these outcomes; (3) both a^2 and c^2 decrease, and e^2 increases, with the position of an outcome later in the life course; these patterns are reflected in a strong trend of declining familiality with life course position; (4) The etiology of some outcomes is close to purely genetic, with only small contribution from the shared environment: subjective social status, personal income, occupational wages, and college graduation.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2014 Add Health Users Conference


Roos, J. Micah
Nielsen, Francois

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID