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      Resource Compensation or Multiplication? The Interplay between Cognitive Ability and Social Origin in Explaining Educational Attainment

      1 , 1 , 2 , 1 , 3
      European Sociological Review
      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          While previous research has conclusively established that children with higher cognitive ability and those originating from advantaged socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds have better educational outcomes, the interplay between the influences of cognitive ability and social origin has been largely overlooked. The influence of cognitive ability might be weaker in high-SES families as a result of resource compensation, and stronger in high-SES families owing to resource multiplication. We investigate these mechanisms while taking into account the possibility that the association between cognitive ability and educational attainment might be partly spurious due to unobserved genetic and environmental influences. We do so by analysing a large sample of twins from the German TwinLife study (Npairs = 2,190). Our results show that the association between cognitive ability and educational attainment is to a large extent confounded by genetic and shared environmental factors. If this is not considered, and this is the case in most previous studies, high-SES parents seem to compensate for the lower cognitive ability of their children. However, when we consider the genetic and shared environmental confounding, the resource compensation effect becomes non-significant.

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          Most cited references47

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          Socioeconomic status and child development.

          Socioeconomic status (SES) is one of the most widely studied constructs in the social sciences. Several ways of measuring SES have been proposed, but most include some quantification of family income, parental education, and occupational status. Research shows that SES is associated with a wide array of health, cognitive, and socioemotional outcomes in children, with effects beginning prior to birth and continuing into adulthood. A variety of mechanisms linking SES to child well-being have been proposed, with most involving differences in access to material and social resources or reactions to stress-inducing conditions by both the children themselves and their parents. For children, SES impacts well-being at multiple levels, including both family and neighborhood. Its effects are moderated by children's own characteristics, family characteristics, and external support systems.
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            A standard international socio-economic index of occupational status

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              Genetics and intelligence differences: five special findings

              Intelligence is a core construct in differential psychology and behavioural genetics, and should be so in cognitive neuroscience. It is one of the best predictors of important life outcomes such as education, occupation, mental and physical health and illness, and mortality. Intelligence is one of the most heritable behavioural traits. Here, we highlight five genetic findings that are special to intelligence differences and that have important implications for its genetic architecture and for gene-hunting expeditions. (i) The heritability of intelligence increases from about 20% in infancy to perhaps 80% in later adulthood. (ii) Intelligence captures genetic effects on diverse cognitive and learning abilities, which correlate phenotypically about 0.30 on average but correlate genetically about 0.60 or higher. (iii) Assortative mating is greater for intelligence (spouse correlations ~0.40) than for other behavioural traits such as personality and psychopathology (~0.10) or physical traits such as height and weight (~0.20). Assortative mating pumps additive genetic variance into the population every generation, contributing to the high narrow heritability (additive genetic variance) of intelligence. (iv) Unlike psychiatric disorders, intelligence is normally distributed with a positive end of exceptional performance that is a model for ‘positive genetics'. (v) Intelligence is associated with education and social class and broadens the causal perspectives on how these three inter-correlated variables contribute to social mobility, and health, illness and mortality differences. These five findings arose primarily from twin studies. They are being confirmed by the first new quantitative genetic technique in a century—Genome-wide Complex Trait Analysis (GCTA)—which estimates genetic influence using genome-wide genotypes in large samples of unrelated individuals. Comparing GCTA results to the results of twin studies reveals important insights into the genetic architecture of intelligence that are relevant to attempts to narrow the ‘missing heritability' gap.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                European Sociological Review
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                0266-7215
                1468-2672
                April 01 2021
                March 23 2021
                December 04 2020
                April 01 2021
                March 23 2021
                December 04 2020
                : 37
                : 2
                : 186-200
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Sociology/ICS, Utrecht University, Padualaan 14, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Department of Sociology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Department of Life Course, Life Course Policy, and Social Integration/SOCIUM, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
                Article
                10.1093/esr/jcaa054
                cde6d79f-e9f7-4ff8-8821-7743caba1b37
                © 2020

                http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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