Pathways Between a Polygenic Score for Educational Attainment and Higher Educational Attainment in an African American Sample

Jill A. Rabinowitz, Sally I.Chun Kuo, Benjamin Domingue, Mieka Smart, William Felder, Kelly Benke, Brion S. Maher, Nicholas S. Ialongo, George Uhl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We investigated the extent to which performance on standardized achievement tests, executive function (EF), and aggression in childhood and adolescence accounted for the relationship between a polygenic score for educational attainment (EA PGS) and years of education in a community sample of African Americans. Participants (N = 402; 49.9% female) were initially recruited for an elementary school-based prevention trial in a Mid-Atlantic city and followed into adulthood. In first and twelfth grade, participants completed math and reading standardized tests and teachers reported on participants’ aggression and EF, specifically impulsivity and concentration problems. At age 20, participants reported on their years of education and post-secondary degrees attained and their genotype was assayed from blood or buccal swabs. An EA PGS was created using results from a large-scale GWAS on EA. A higher EA PGS was associated with higher education indirectly via adolescent achievement. No other mediating mechanisms were significant. Adolescent academic achievement is thus one mechanism through which polygenic propensity for EA influences post-secondary education among urban, African American youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Genetics
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Achievement
  • Adolescence
  • Aggression
  • Childhood
  • Educational attainment
  • Executive function
  • Polygenic score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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