An international team of researchers examined whether education-linked polygenic scores derived from a genome-wide association study could predict social mobility in more than 20,000 people from five longitudinal cohorts from the UK, US, and New Zealand. As they write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers sought to tease out whether these education-linked variants helped people advance or whether it reflected that people from better-off families tend to stay well off.
In their analysis, the researchers found that individuals with higher scores tended to stay in school longer, have successful careers, and accumulate wealth, even when compared to their siblings and parents, the Guardian adds. Though the researchers noted that children with higher scores also started out in socioeconomically better-off families, when they accounted for that, they still observed an effect.
The Guardian notes, though, that the researchers estimate that people's genes only influence about four percent of the difference in social mobility.
"There's nothing in our study that says these genetic variants are a more powerful predictor of outcomes than family backgrounds," first author Dan Belsky from Duke University tells Newsweek.