Using Nature to Understand Nurture

Article Using Nature to Understand Nurture

Genetic associations show how parenting matters for children’s education





Genetic nurture upends the idea that nature and nurture exert distinct and separable influences on human beings. A new analysis of data from genome-wide association studies found that the genes a parent does not pass on to a child still affect the child’s education. Because these genes affect the child’s parents, siblings and other relatives, they impact the environment that the parent and child jointly inhabit. This environment in turn affects the child’s level of education. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone concerned with the consequential dynamic of nature and nurture.


The idea of genetic nurture claims that the genes a parent does not pass on to a child still affect the child’s level of education.

Each chromosome you pass on to your child is a unique amalgam comprised of some of the DNA you got from each of your parents, so some of your DNA is not included. Data gathered from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of educational attainment found that a child’s level of education is still influenced by the genes a parent does not hand down. The authors of the study term this finding genetic nurture and suggest that the genes that aren’t inherited create a shared environment, which in turn affects...

About the Authors

Philipp D. Koellinger is a professor in geno-economics at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His research focuses on how genes influence economic behavior. K. Paige Harden is an associate professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, where she runs the Developmental Behavior Genetics Lab.

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