Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Association Between Body Height and Educational Attainment: A Study of Adult Finnish Twins

Abstract

The nature of the association between body height and educational attainment found in previous studies remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to examine factors contributing to this association by using a large Finnish twin data set (8798 adult twin pairs) gathered by questionnaire in 1981. A bivariate twin analysis was used to determine whether the genetic and environmental factors behind body height and educational attainment correlate with each other. A high heritability was found for body height (h 2 = 0.78 in men and h 2 = 0.75 in women), and a moderate heritability for education (h 2 = 0.47 and h 2 = 0.43, respectively). Shared environmental effects were also important in body height (c 2 = 0.12 in men and c 2 = 0.11 in women) and education (c 2 = 0.36 and c 2 = 0.43, respectively). A high correlation (r c = 0.77 in men, r c = 0.58 in women) of shared environmental factors education and body height, and weaker correlations (r = 0.11 and r = 0.08, respectively) of unshared environmental factors were found. The correlation of genetic factors between these two characteristics was not statistically significant. The results suggest that the association between body height and education is due mainly to nongenetic family factors.

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Silventoinen, K., Kaprio, J. & Lahelma, E. Genetic and Environmental Contributions to the Association Between Body Height and Educational Attainment: A Study of Adult Finnish Twins. Behav Genet 30, 477–485 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010202902159

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  • Body height
  • education
  • environment
  • twins