An Anatomy of Intergenerational Transmission: Learning from the educational attainments of Norwegian twins and their parents

  1. Eivind Ystrøm
  2. Imac Maria Zambrana

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Description: Research on the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment, and transmission of social positions more generally, have long attempted to separate the relative roles of ascription and achievement. In these efforts, the bulk of research has ignored genetic inheritance. We use structural equations models and data on 4590 twin pairs and their parents to distinguish the roles of genetic and environmental influences on educational attainment in Norway, a country with high affordability and easy access to education at all levels. Our quantitative genetic models confirm the status quo; not of sociology, but of behavior genetics. Heritable factors play an important role in the transmission process, and the postulated direct effects of parents own educational attainments are negligible. The family environment does matter, but only those features that are shared between the twins themselves and not those that involve their parents. These results represent a challenge to conventional sociological theory on intergenerational transmission processes and the role of education in social stratification.

License: CC-By Attribution 4.0 International


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