Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Sex Differences in Genetic and Environmental Influences on Educational Attainment and Income

  • Ragnhild E. Ørstavik (a1), Nikolai Czajkowski (a1) (a2), Espen Røysamb (a1) (a2), Gun Peggy Knudsen (a1), Kristian Tambs (a1) and Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud (a1) (a3) (a4)...

Abstract

In many Western countries, women now reach educational levels comparable to men, although their income remains considerably lower. For the past decades, it has become increasingly clear that these measures of socio-economic status are influenced by genetic as well as environmental factors. Less is known about the relationship between education and income, and sex differences. The aim of this study was to explore genetic and environmental factors influencing education and income in a large cohort of young Norwegian twins, with special emphasis on gender differences. National register data on educational level and income were obtained for 7,710 twins (aged 29–41 years). Bivariate Cholesky models were applied to estimate qualitative and quantitative gender differences in genetic and environmental influences, the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to the correlation between education and income, and genetic correlations within and between sexes and phenotypes. The phenotypic correlation between educational level and income was 0.34 (0.32–0.39) for men and 0.45 (0.43–0.48) for women. An ACE model with both qualitative and quantitative sex differences fitted the data best. The genetic correlation between men and women (rg) was 0.66 (0.22–1.00) for educational attainment and 0.38 (0.01–0.75) for income, and between the two phenotypes 0.31 (0.08–0.52) for men and 0.72 (0.64–0.85) for women. Our results imply that, in relatively egalitarian societies with state-supported access to higher education and political awareness of gender equality, genetic factors may play an important role in explaining sex differences in the relationship between education and income.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Sex Differences in Genetic and Environmental Influences on Educational Attainment and Income
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Sex Differences in Genetic and Environmental Influences on Educational Attainment and Income
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Sex Differences in Genetic and Environmental Influences on Educational Attainment and Income
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Corresponding author

address for correspondence: Ragnhild Elise Ørstavik, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, PO Box 4404, Nydalen N-0403, Oslo, Norway. E-mail: reor@fhi.no

References

Hide All
Aaltonen, S., Ortega-Alonso, A., Kujala, U. M., & Kaprio, J. (2010). A longitudinal study on genetic and environmental influences on leisure time physical activity in the Finnish Twin Cohort. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 13, 475481.
Adler, N. E., & Ostrove, J. M. (1999). Socioeconomic status and health: What we know and what we don’t. New York Academy of Sciences, 896, 315.
Akaike, H. (1987). Factor-analysis and AIC. Psychometrica, 52, 317332.
Benjamin, D. J., Cesarini, D., Chabris, C. F., Glaeser, E. L., Laibson, D. I., Guethnason, V., . . . Lichtenstein, P. (2012). The promises and pitfalls of genoeconomics. Annual Review of Economics, 4, 627662.
Bhuller, M., Mogstad, M., & Salvanes, K. G. (2010). Life-cycle bias and the returns to schooling in current and lifetime earnings (IZA Discussion Paper Series No. 5788). St Louis, MO: Research Division of Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.
Bjorklund, A., Eriksson, T., Jantti, M., Raaum, O., & Osterbacka, E. (2002). Brother correlations in earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden compared to the United States. Journal of Population Economics, 15, 757772.
Björklund, A., & Jäntti, M. (2009). Intergenerational income mobility and the role of family background. In Salverda, W., Nolan, B. & Smeeding, T. M. (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of economic inequality (pp. 491521). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Boker, S., Neale, M. C., Maes, H., Wilde, M., Spiegel, M., Brick, T., . . . Fox, J. (2011). OpenMx: An Open source extended structural equation modeling framework. Psychometrica, 76, 306317.
Bonjour, D., Cherkas, L., Haskel, J., Hawkes, D., & Spector, T. (2002). Returns to education: Evidence from UK twins. London: Center for the Economics of Education, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Branigan, A. R., McCallum, K. J., & Freese, J. (2013). Variation in the heritability of educational attainment: An international meta-analysis. Social Forces, 92, 109140.
Bratberg, E., Nilsen, O. A., & Vaage, K. (2005). Intergenerational earnings mobility in Norway: Levels and trends. Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 107, 419435.
Ermisch, J. & Francesconi, M. (2001). Family matters: Impacts of family background on educational attainments. Economica, 68, 137156.
European Commission. (2013). The situation in EU. Brussel: Author.
Harris, J. R., Magnus, P., & Tambs, K. (2006). The Norwegian Institute of Public Health twin program of research: An update. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 9, 858864.
Heath, A. C., Berg, K., Eaves, L. J., Solaas, M. H., Corey, L. A., Sundet, J., . . . Nance, W.E. (1985). Education policy and the heritability of educational attainment. Nature, 314, 734736.
Hirsch, A., Flatebø, G., Modig, I., Sandnes, T., Aalandslid, V., Thorsen, L. R., . . . Stene, R. J. (2010). Women and men in Norway. Oslo: Statistics Norway.
Hyytinen, A., Ilmakunnas, P., Johansson, E., & Toivanen, O. (2013). Heritability of Lifetime Income (MPRA paper no. 46326). Helsinki: Helsinki Center of Economic Research.
Johnson, W., Deary, I. J., Silventoinen, K., Tynelius, P., & Rasmussen, F. (2010). Family background buys an education in Minnesota but not in Sweden. Psychological Sciences, 21, 12661273.
Le, A. T., Miller, P. W., Slutske, W. S., & Martin, N. G. (2010). Are attitudes towards economic risk heritable? Analyses using the Australian twin study of gambling. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 13, 330339.
Lindahl, L. (2011). A comparison of family and neighborhood effects on grades, test scores, educational attainment and income-evidence from Sweden. Journal of Economic Inequality, 9, 207226.
Lynch, S. M. (2006). Explaining life course and cohort variation in the relationship between education and health: the role of income. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 47, 324338.
Magnus, P., Berg, K., & Nance, W. E. (1983). Predicting zygosity in Norwegian twin pairs born 1915–1960. Clinical Genetics, 24, 103112.
Miller, P., Mulvey, C., & Martin, N. (1996). Earnings and schooling: an overview of economic research based on the Australian Twin Register. Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae, 45, 417429.
Miller, P., Mulvey, C., & Martin, N. (1999). Genetic and environmental contribution to educational attinament in Australia. Economics of Education Review, 20, 211224.
Miller, P., Mulvey, C., & Martin, N. (2006). The return to schooling: Estimates from a sample of young Australian twins. Labour Economics, 13, 571587.
Neale, M. C., & Cardon, L. R. (1992). Methodology for genetic studies of twins and families. Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer .
Neale, M. C., Roysamb, E., & Jacobson, K. (2006). Multivariate genetic analysis of sex limitation and G x E interaction. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 9, 481489.
Nilsen, T. S., Brandt, I., Magnus, P., & Harris, J. R. (2012). The Norwegian Twin Registry. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 15, 775780.
Nilsen, T. S., Knudsen, G. P., Gervin, K., Brandt, I., Roysamb, E., Tambs, K., . . . Harris, J.R. (2012). The Norwegian Twin Registry from a public health perspective: A research update. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 15, 111.
OECD. (2011). Education at a glance 2011: OECD indicators. OECD Publishing. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2011-en
Plomin, R., DeFries, J. C., McClearn, G. E., & McGuffin, P. (2008). Behavioral genetics (5th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.
Rognerud, M. A., & Zahl, P. H. (2006). Social inequalities in mortality: changes in the relative importance of income, education and household size over a 27-year period. European Journal of Public Health, 16, 6268.
Saeter, J. P. (2009). Social inheritance — Education, occupation and standards of living [In Norwegian] (Report No. 16). Oslo: Statistics Norway.
Skrede, K. (2010). Economical analyses 5/2010 [In Norwegian]. Oslo: Statistics Norway.
Szanton, S. L., Johnson, B., Thorpe, R. J., & Whitfield, K. (2009). Education in time: Cohort differences in educational attainment in African-American twins. PLoS One, 4, e7664.
Tambs, K., Kendler, K. S., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Aggen, S. H., Harris, J. R., Neale, M. C., . . . Røysamb, E. (2012). Genetic and environmental contributions to the relationship between education and anxiety disorders — A twin study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 125, 203212.
Tambs, K., & Moum, T. (1992). No large convergence during marriage for health, lifestyle, and personality in a large sample of Norwegian spouses. Journal of Marriage and Family, 54, 957–71.
Tambs, K., Ronning, T., Prescott, C. A., Kendler, K. S., Reichborn-Kjennerud, T., Torgersen, S., . . . Harris, J. R. (2009). The Norwegian institute of public health twin study of mental health: Examining recruitment and attrition bias. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 12, 158168.
Tambs, K., Sundet, J. M., Magnus, P., & Berg, K. (1989). Genetic and environmental contributions to the covariance between occupational status, educational attainment, and IQ: A study of twins. Behavior Genetics, 19, 209222.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed