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Effect of Having Smarts -- and Money

While people from high- or low-income families are just as likely to inherit smarts, those with the familial foot-up are more likely to succeed, the Washington Post reports.

"The least-gifted children of high-income parents graduate from college at higher rates than the most-gifted children of low-income parents," the Post writes.

That's, it says, according to an economic analysis from pair of New York University and Johns Hopkins University researchers appearing in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. They applied a genetic score that predicts educational attainment to a cohort of 8,537 US adults of European ancestry from the Health and Retirement Study. Members of the cohort had a mean educational attainment of 13 years.

The researchers combined that data with income data from the Social Security Administration, which includes earnings reported to the Internal Revenue Service, on both the participant and his or her father, and other socioeconomic data. They found that while the genetic educational attainment score generally predicted a higher average rate of college completion, the effect is stronger for those who grew up in more well to do households.

"If you don't have the family resources, even the bright kids — the kids who are naturally gifted — are going to have to face uphill battles," author Kevin Thom from NYU tells the Post.