Genetic and environmental contributions to educational attainment in Australia

Paul Miller, C. Mulvey, N. Martin

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Abstract

The genetic and environmental contributions to educational attainment in Australia are examined using a multiple regression model drawn from the medical research literature. Data from a large sample of Australian twins are analysed. The findings indicate that at least as much as 50 percent and perhaps as much as 65 percent of the variance in educational attainments can be attributed to genetic endowments. It is suggested that only around 25 percent of the variance in educational attainments may be due to environmental factors, though this contribution is shown to be around 40 percent when adjustments for measurement error and assortative mating are made. The high fraction of the observed variation in educational attainments due to genetic differences is consistent with results reported by Heath et al. (Heath, A.C., Berg, K., Eaves, L.J., Solaas, M.H., Corey, L.A., Sundet, J., Magnus, P., Nance, W.E., 1985. Education policy and the heritability of educational attainment. Nature 314(6013), 734-736.), Tambs et al. (Tambs, K., Sundet, J.M., Magnus, P., Berg, K., 1989. Genetic and environmental contributions to the covariance between occupational status, educational attainment and IQ: a study of twins. Behavior Genetics 19(2), 209-222.), Vogler and Fulker (Vogler, G.P., Fulker, D.W., 1983. Familial resemblance for educational attainment. Behavior Generics 13(4), 341-354.) and Behrman and Taubman (Behrman, J., Taubman, P., 1989. Is schooling mostly in the genes? Nature-nurture decomposition using data on relatives. Journal of Political Economy 97(6), 1425-1446.), suggesting that the finding is robust. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-224
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Volume20
Issue numberN/A
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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