Using DNA from mothers and children to study parental investment in children’s educational attainment

Jasmin Wertz, Terrie Edith Moffitt, Jessica Cameron Blais, Louise Arseneault, Daniel W. Belsky, David L. Corcoran, Renate Houts, Timothy Matthews, Joseph A Prinz, Leah S. Richmond-Rakerd, Karen Sugden, Benjamin Williams, Avshalom Caspi

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This study tested implications of new genetic discoveries for understanding the association between parental investment and children’s educational attainment. A novel design matched genetic data from 860 British mothers and their children with home-visit measures of parenting: the E-Risk Study. Three findings emerged. First, both mothers’ and children’s education-associated genetics, summarized in a genome-wide polygenic score, predicted parenting -- a gene-environment correlation. Second, accounting for genetic influences slightly reduced associations between parenting and children’s attainment -- indicating some genetic confounding. Third, mothers’ genetics influenced children’s attainment over and above genetic mother-to-child transmission, via cognitively-stimulating parenting -- an environmentally-mediated effect. Findings imply that, when interpreting parents’ effects on children, environmentalists must consider genetic transmission, but geneticists must also consider environmental transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1745–1761
JournalChild Development
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Jun 2019


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