Can genetics reveal the causes and consequences of educational attainment?

Marcus Munafò*, Neil M. Davies, George Davey Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

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

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There is an extensive literature on the causes of educational inequalities, and the life course consequences of educational attainment. Mendelian randomization, where genetic variants associated with exposures of interest are used as proxies for those exposures, often within an instrumental variables framework, has proven highly effective at elucidating the causal effects of several risk factors in the biomedical sciences. We discuss the potential for this approach to be used in the context of social and socio-economic exposures and outcomes, such as educational attainment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-688
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A
Issue number2
Early online date24 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Population Health Science Institute
  • Physical and Mental Health


  • Causal inference
  • Education
  • Genetic structure
  • Mendelian randomization


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