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Intelligence, education and health, evidence from bidirectional two-sample Mendelian randomization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Jul 2019


Intelligence and education are predictive of better physical and mental health, socioeconomic position (SEP), and longevity. However, these associations are insufficient to
prove that intelligence and/or education cause these outcomes. Intelligence and education are phenotypically and genetically correlated, which makes it difficult to elucidate causal relationships. We used univariate and multivariable Mendelian randomization to estimate the total and direct effects of intelligence and educational attainment on mental and physical health, measures of socioeconomic position, and longevity. Both intelligence and education had beneficial total effects. Higher intelligence had positive direct effects on income and alcohol consumption, and negative direct effects on moderate and vigorous physical activity. Higher educational attainment had positive direct effects on income, alcohol consumption, and vigorous physical activity, and negative direct effects on smoking, BMI and sedentary behaviour. If the Mendelian randomization assumptions hold, these findings suggest that intelligence and education are potential interventions targets for improving health.

    Research areas

  • Mendelian randomization, UK Biobank, intelligence, Education



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