Heritability of education rises with intergenerational mobility

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Description: As an indicator of educational opportunity, social scientists have studied intergenerational mobility—the degree to which children’s attainment depends on that of their parents—and how it varies across place or time. We combine this research with behavior genetics to show that societal variation in mobility is rooted in family advantages that siblings share over and above genetic transmission. In societies with high intergenerational mobility, less variance in educational attainment is attributable to the shared sibling environment. Variance due to genetic factors is largely constant, but its share as a part of total variance, heritability, rises with mobility. Our results suggest that environmental differences underlie variation in intergenerational mobility, and that there is no tension between egalitarian policies and the realization of individual genetic potential.

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