Predicting educational achievement from genomic measures and socioeconomic status
Sophie von Stumm, Emily Smith-Woolley, Ziada Ayorech, Andrew McMillan, Kaili Rimfeld, Philip Dale, Robert Plomin
This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed
The two best predictors of children’s educational achievement available from birth are parents’ socioeconomic status (SES) and, recently, children’s inherited DNA differences that can be aggregated in genome-wide polygenic scores (GPS). Here we chart for the first time the developmental interplay between these two predictors of educational achievement at ages 7, 11, 14 and 16 in a sample of almost 5,000 UK school children. … At the end of compulsory education at age 16, GPS and SES respectively predict 14% and 23% of the variance of educational achievement; controlling for genetic influence on SES reduces its predictive power to 16%.
So, socio-economic status is currently a little more powerful of a predictor of educational achievement than polygenic scores from Lee’s big 2018 study.
Analyses of the extremes of GPS and SES highlight their influence and interplay: In children who have high GPS and come from high SES families, 77% go to university, whereas 21% of children with low GPS and from low SES backgrounds attend university. We find that the effects of GPS and SES are primarily additive, suggesting that their joint impact is particularly dramatic for children at the extreme ends of the distribution.