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Multivariable two-sample Mendelian randomization estimates of the effects of intelligence and education on health

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere43990
Number of pages22
DateAccepted/In press - 8 Jul 2019
DatePublished (current) - 17 Sep 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 both intelligence and education affect health.

    Research areas

  • education, epidemiology, global health, human, intelligence, Mendelian randomization, UK Biobank

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    Licence: CC BY


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