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Twin Res Hum Genet. 2019 Feb;22(1):1-3. doi: 10.1017/thg.2018.75. Epub 2019 Jan 21.

Social Competence in Parents Increases Children's Educational Attainment: Replicable Genetically-Mediated Effects of Parenting Revealed by Non-Transmitted DNA.

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Department of Psychology,University of Edinburgh,Edinburgh,UK.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health,Baltimore, MD,USA.
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute,Brisbane, Queensland,Australia.
Queensland Brain Institute,University of Queensland,Brisbane, Queensland,Australia.
Department of Economics, School of Business and Economics,Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,Amsterdam,The Netherlands.
Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics,Virginia Commonwealth University,Richmond, VA,USA.


We recently reported an association of offspring educational attainment with polygenic risk scores (PRS) computed on parent's non-transmitted alleles for educational attainment using the second GWAS meta-analysis article on educational attainment published by the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium. Here we test the replication of these findings using a more powerful PRS from the third GWAS meta-analysis article by the Consortium. Each of the key findings of our previous paper is replicated using this improved PRS (N = 2335 adolescent twins and their genotyped parents). The association of children's attainment with their own PRS increased substantially with the standardized effect size, moving from β = 0.134, 95% CI = 0.079, 0.188 for EA2, to β = 0.223, 95% CI = 0.169, 0.278, p < .001, for EA3. Parent's PRS again predicted the socioeconomic status (SES) they provided to their offspring and increased from β = 0.201, 95% CI = 0.147, 0.256 to β = 0.286, 95% CI = 0.239, 0.333. Importantly, the PRS for alleles not transmitted to their offspring - therefore acting via the parenting environment - was increased in effect size from β = 0.058, 95% CI = 0.003, 0.114 to β = 0.067, 95% CI = 0.012, 0.122, p = .016. As previously found, this non-transmitted genetic effect was fully accounted for by parental SES. The findings reinforce the conclusion that genetic effects of parenting are substantial, explain approximately one-third the magnitude of an individual's own genetic inheritance and are mediated by parental socioeconomic competence.


PRS; SES; educational attainment; non-transmitted genotype; parental environment; parenting; polygenic risk scores; socioeconomic status; virtual-parent design

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