An exploration into the causal relationships between educational attainment, intelligence, and wellbeing: an observational and two-sample Mendelian randomisation study

Jessica M Armitage*, Robyn E Wootton, Oliver S.P. Davis, Claire M A Haworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Educational attainment is associated with a range of positive outcomes, yet its impact on wellbeing is unclear, and complicated by high correlations with intelligence. We use genetic and observational data to investigate for the first time, whether educational attainment and intelligence are causally and independently related to wellbeing. Results from our multivariable Mendelian randomisation demonstrated a positive causal impact of a genetic predisposition to higher educational attainment on wellbeing that remained after accounting for intelligence, and a negative impact of intelligence that was independent of educational attainment. Observational analyses suggested that these associations may be subject to sex differences, with benefits to wellbeing greater for females who attend higher education compared to males. For intelligence, males scoring more highly on measures related to happiness were those with lower intelligence. Our findings demonstrate a unique benefit for wellbeing of staying in school, over and above improving cognitive abilities, with benefits likely to be greater for females compared to males.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Journalnpj Mental Health Research
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2024

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Health and Wellbeing (Psychological Science)

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