What can genes tell us about the relationship between education and health?

TitleWhat can genes tell us about the relationship between education and health?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBoardman, JD, Domingue, BW, Daw, J
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
KeywordsDemographics, Genetics, Health Conditions and Status

We use genome wide data from respondents of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to evaluate the possibility that common genetic influences are associated with education and three health outcomes: depression, self-rated health, and body mass index. We use a total of 1.7 million single nucleotide polymorphisms obtained from the Illumina HumanOmni2.5-4v1 chip from 4,233 non-Hispanic white respondents to characterize genetic similarities among unrelated persons in the HRS. We then used the Genome Wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA) toolkit, to estimate univariate and bivariate heritability. We provide evidence that education (h2 = .33), BMI (h2 = .43), depression (h2 = .19), and self-rated health (h2 = .18) are all moderately heritable phenotypes. We also provide evidence that some of the correlation between depression and education as well as self-rated health and education is due to common genetic factors associated with one or both traits. We find no evidence that the correlation between education and BMI is influenced by common genetic factors.

Endnote Keywords

education/health/depression/self-rated health/genetics/genetics

Endnote ID


Citation Key8162
PubMed ID25113566
PubMed Central IDPMC4314507