Molecular genetic contributions to socioeconomic status and intelligence

Riccardo E. Marioni, Gail Davies, Caroline Hayward, David Liewald, Shona M. Kerr, Archie Campbell, Michelle Luciano, Blair H. Smith, Sandosh Padmanabhan, Lynne J. Hocking, Nicholas D. Hastie, Alan F. Wright, David J. Porteous, Peter M. Visscher, Ian J. Deary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Education, socioeconomic status, and intelligence are commonly used as predictors of health outcomes, social environment, and mortality. Education and socioeconomic status are typically viewed as environmental variables although both correlate with intelligence, which has a substantial genetic basis. Using data from 6815 unrelated subjects from the Generation Scotland study, we examined the genetic contributions to these variables and their genetic correlations. Subjects underwent genome-wide testing for common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). DNA-derived heritability estimates and genetic correlations were calculated using the ‘Genome-wide Complex Trait Analyses’ (GCTA) procedures. 21% of the variation in education, 18% of the variation in socioeconomic status, and 29% of the variation in general cognitive ability was explained by variation in common SNPs (SEs ~ 5%). The SNP-based genetic correlations of education and socioeconomic status with general intelligence were 0.95 (SE 0.13) and 0.26 (0.16), respectively. There are genetic contributions to intelligence and education with near-complete overlap between common additive SNP effects on these traits (genetic correlation ~ 1). Genetic influences on socioeconomic status are also associated with the genetic foundations of intelligence. The results are also compatible with substantial environmental contributions to socioeconomic status.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Generation Scotland
  • Intelligence
  • Education


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