Genetic and environmental influences on educational attainment of young adults


Nielsen, Francois & Roos, J. Micah (2010). Genetic and environmental influences on educational attainment of young adults. 2010 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


We use the OpenMx SEM program to estimate ACE models for the roles of genetic and environmental influences on tertiary educational attainment measured as college completion (dichotomous expression of an underlying continuous liability) and years of education (treated as continuous outcome). We use data in Wave IV of Add Health on 4,472 members of sibling pairs of five types: MZ twins, DZ twins, full siblings, half siblings, and nonrelated siblings. Many cognitive and educational outcomes show increasing role of genes (heritability) and disappearing effect of shared environment by late adolescence. We hypothesize that shared environment effects may endure into early adulthood for tertiary educational attainment, as it involves financial expenses more strongly affected by family resources than more purely cognitive outcomes. This conjecture is suggested by findings that college attendance is one outcome still affected by family income, after cognitive and academic characteristics of individuals are controlled. We estimate the ACE models from the raw data controlling for sex and age. At the conference we will present preferred models and estimates of heritability and of shared and unshared environment variance components for both outcome measures.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2010 Add Health Users Conference


Nielsen, Francois
Roos, J. Micah

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID