Causal Effect of Adult Children's Education on Parental Longevity in the US. An Intergenerational Mendelian Randomization Approach

Patrick Praeg, University of Oxford
Felix C. Tropf , University of Oxford
Christiaan W. S. Monden, University of Oxford

Having better educated adult children is associated with living longer and being healthier. Yet, causal tests of this association are still rare. Using the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we propose a novel, intergenerational Mendelian Randomization approach (IGMR) to investigate the causal relationship between the education of HRS respondents and their parents' longevity. We are able to show that children's education is indeed associated with greater longevity for parents. When we instrument the endogenous education variable using genetic dispositions for educational attainment conditional on parental education and genetic predispositions for various health outcomes, the education effect remains strong and statistically significant for mothers, suggesting a causal effect of children's education on parental health in the US. We discuss substantive implications of our findings and investigate potential limitations of our new approach, including biological pleiotropy and family size.

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 Presented in Session 54. Intergenerational Spillover Effects