European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 301–308 | Cite as

School performance of international adoptees better than expected from cognitive test results

  • Frank Lindblad
  • Monica Dalen
  • Finn Rasmussen
  • Bo Vinnerljung
  • Anders Hjern



To investigate school performance of international adoptees in relation to their cognitive competence.


From the population of all male Swedish residents born 1973–1976, registered in the census 1985 and with complete test scores from military conscription, the following study groups were identified: Korean adoptees (n = 320), non-Korean adoptees (n = 1,125), siblings (children born by adoptive parents, n = 190) and Swedish majority comparisons (n = 142,024). Global scores from intelligence tests at conscription were compared with grade points from the last compulsory school year (year 9). Linear and logistic regression was applied in statistical analyses.


The mean grade points in theoretical subjects were lower in non-Korean adoptees than in the majority population, but when global test scores from military conscription were adjusted for, outcomes were significantly better, equal for physics, than in the majority population. The grade points of Korean adoptees were higher than in the majority population and the same held true after adjusting for global test scores. When SES was taken into account, the risk of poor school performance (only completed lower subject levels) increased in non-Korean adoptees compared to models only adjusted for age and sex.


Male international adoptees generally perform better in school than expected by their cognitive competence. A cognitive evaluation is important in the assessment of adoptees with learning difficulties.


adoption cognition intelligence school 



This study was supported by grants from The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. The research position of Frank Lindblad is financed by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research.


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank Lindblad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Monica Dalen
    • 3
  • Finn Rasmussen
    • 4
  • Bo Vinnerljung
    • 5
    • 6
  • Anders Hjern
    • 5
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Neuroscience, Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity Hospital of UppsalaUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Stress Research InstituteStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Special Needs EducationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  4. 4.Child and Adolescent Public Health Epidemiology Group, Department of Public Health SciencesKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Centre for EpidemiologyNational Board of Health and WelfareStockholmSweden
  6. 6.Institute for Evidence-based Social Work PracticeNational Board of Health and WelfareStockholmSweden
  7. 7.Department of Women’s and Children’s HealthUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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