The intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: A closer look at the (interrelated) roles of paternal involvement and genetic inheritance


Verweij, R. M. & Keizer, R. (2022). The intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: A closer look at the (interrelated) roles of paternal involvement and genetic inheritance. PLoS ONE. vol. 17 (12 December) , PMCID: PMC9744317


Numerous studies have documented a strong intergenerational transmission of educational attainment. In explaining this transmission, separate fields of research have studied separate mechanisms. To obtain a more complete understanding, the current study integrates insights from the fields of behavioural sciences and genetics and examines the extent to which paternal involvement and children’s polygenic score (PGS) are unique underlying mechanisms, correlate with each other, and/or act as important confounders in the intergenerational transmission of fathers’ educational attainment. To answer our research questions, we use rich data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (n = 4,579). Firstly, results from our mediation analyses showed a significant association between fathers’ educational attainment and children’s educational attainment (0.303). This association is for about 4 per cent accounted for by paternal involvement, whereas a much larger share, 21 per cent, is accounted for by children’s education PGS. Secondly, our results showed that these genetic and behavioural factors are significantly correlated with each other (correlations between 0.06 and 0.09). Thirdly, we found support for genetic confounding, as adding children’s education PGS to the model reduced the association between paternal involvement and children’s educational attainment by 11 per cent. Fourthly, evidence for social confounding was almost negligible (the association between child’s education PGS and educational attainment was only reduced by half of a per cent). Our findings highlight the importance of integrating insights and data from multiple disciplines in understanding the mechanisms underlying the intergenerational transmission of inequality, as our study reveals that behavioural and genetic influences overlap, correlate, and confound each other as mechanisms underlying this transmission.



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Export Date: 03 January 2023; Cited By: 0

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Journal Article

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Verweij, R. M.
Keizer, R.

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12 December





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