Similarities between parent and offspring are widespread in psychology; however, shared genetic variants often confound causal inference for offspring outcomes. A polygenic score (PGS) derived from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) can be used to test for the presence of parental influence that controls for genetic variants shared across generations. We use a PGS for educational attainment (EA3; N ≈ 750 thousand) to predict offspring years of education in a sample of 2517 twins and both parents. We find that within families, the dizygotic twin with the higher PGS is more likely to attain higher education (unstandardized β = 0.32; p < 0.001). Additionally, however, we find an effect of parental genotype on offspring outcome that is independent of the offspring’s own genotype; this raises the variance explained in offspring years of education from 9.3 to 11.1% (∆R2 = 0.018, p < 0.001). Controlling for parental IQ or socioeconomic status substantially attenuated or eliminated this effect of parental genotype. These findings suggest a role of environmental factors affected by heritable characteristics of the parents in fostering offspring years of education.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article