B3539 - Family background and the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment A multi-cohort analysis - 28/05/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Jasmin Wertz | Duke University (USA)
Avshalom Caspi, PhD, Terrie E. Moffitt, PhD, Karen Sudgen, PhD , David Corcoran, PhD, Renate Houts, PhD, Sophie von Stumm, PhD, Sophie Cave
Title of project: 
Family background and the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment: A multi-cohort analysis
Proposal summary: 

The overall aim of this project is to study how family background influences children’s attainment. We are interested in two questions. The first question is, how do ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ combine to influence children’s attainment? To answer this question, we will test whether parental education-associated genetics are associated with the quality of parenting they provide to their children. We will test associations with parental behaviour from before a child is born (e.g., smoking, alcohol use during pregnancy), through infancy (e.g. breastfeeding), childhood (e.g. warm, sensitive parenting; cognitive stimulation), and adolescence (e.g. parental monitoring). We hypothesise that parents’ education-associated genetics are positively associated with these changing forms of parental investment across time. These analyses are a replication and extension of two previous papers from our lab (Wertz et al., 2018; Wertz et al., in press). In the proposed study, we will extend our previous work by a) analysing parenting across a wider age range of the child; b) replicating prior findings across several datasets (including ALSPAC); and c) incorporating measures of genetics and parenting from both mothers and fathers. The second question is, how do links between family socioeconomic status (SES) and children’s educational attainment change across time? To answer this question, we will test if the influence of family SES on children’s school performance has remained stable in Britain over time. We will test associations between family SES and children’s educational attainment across childhood, and compare estimates across different cohorts -- including ALSPAC -- from different historical periods. We hypothesise that the effect of family SES on children’s education will be relatively stable across time. Overall, this project will advance our understanding of the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment.

Impact of research: 
We believe this research will have impact in at least three ways. First, this research will create a better understanding of how genes and environments work together to shape child development. Second, this research will provide insights about how changing educational systems within the UK affect links between family background and children's attainment. Third, this research will contribute to a better understand of the mechanisms underlying and modifying the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment.
Date proposal received: 
Wednesday, 13 May, 2020
Date proposal approved: 
Thursday, 14 May, 2020
Social Science, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Statistical methods, Parenting