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Genetic and Environmental Influences on Cognitive Abilities in Extreme Poverty

  • Yoon-Mi Hur (a1) and Timothy Bates (a2)

Abstract

To improve global human capital, an understanding of the interplay of endowment across the full range of socioeconomic status (SES) is needed. Relevant data, however, are absent in the nations with the most abject poverty (Tucker-Drob & Bates, 2016), where the lowest heritability and strong effects of SES are predicted. Here we report the first study of biopsychosocial gene–environment interaction in extreme poverty. In a sub-Saharan sample of early teenage twins (N = 3192), we observed substantial (~30–40%) genetic influence on cognitive abilities. Surprisingly, shared environmental influences were similar to those found in adolescents growing in Western affluent countries (25–28%). G × SES moderation was estimated at aˋ = .06 (p = .355). Family chaos did not moderate genetic effects but did moderate shared environment influence. Heritability of cognitive abilities in extreme poverty appears comparable to Western data. Reduced family chaos may be a modifiable factor promoting cognitive development.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is unaltered and is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use or in order to create a derivative work.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Yoon-Mi Hur, Email: ymhur@mokpo.ac.kr

References

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Genetic and Environmental Influences on Cognitive Abilities in Extreme Poverty

  • Yoon-Mi Hur (a1) and Timothy Bates (a2)

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