Lilly, Adam (2020). Investigating Genetic Confounding of the Relationship Between College Degree Attainment and Health.
Until recently, it was difficult for researchers interested in the relationship between college degree attainment and health to directly test for genetic confounding. This study investigates that question using three separate health outcomes (depression, body mass index (BMI), and self-rated health). To test for genetic confounding, I use a structural equation modeling approach with polygenic scores (PGSs) to compare the effect of a college degree on health across various model specifications. I also conduct analyses using propensity scores to investigate whether PGSs continue to be useful controls over and above a long list of common covariates available in large social science datasets. Results provide evidence for genetic confounding of the relationship between college degree attainment and health when examining BMI and self-rated health, and weaker evidence when examining depression. Propensity scores estimated using widely available covariates seem to account for the entire genetic effect captured by the PGSs.
Master of Arts
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill