Socioeconomic Background and Gene-Environment Interplay in Social Stratification across the Early Life Course in Finland

Jani Erola , University of Turku
Hannu Lehti, University of Turku
Tina Baier
Aleksi Karhula, University of Turku

There is little research on how parents’ resources are related to the genetic effects on offsprings’ status related attainment. In this study we ask 1) to what extent parents’ socioeconomic characteristics shape genetic effects on children’s’ education, occupational standing and income; 2) does this vary over children’s early life course; and 3) are there differences across the social strata? We analyse high-quality data on all Finnish twins born 1975-1986, acquired from administrative registers. We use the classical twin design to estimate the relative importance of genes (ACE-variance decomposition). The outcomes include children’s education, socioeconomic status (ISEI) and income. Similarly, our explanatory, parental characteristics include education, ISEI and income, observed at five stages of the early life course of the children (age 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25). According to results the overall genetic effects attributed to parental socioeconomic characteristics do not vary much over the children’s early life course stage they are observed at. Rather, the strength of genetic and shared environmental effects depend on when the maturity in a socioeconomic outcome is reached. Both genetic and shared environment matters the most for education that is also achieved earliest and least for income, peaking as the last of the three outcomes. The importance of parents’ resources for the genetic expression in socioeconomic attainments also differs across the social strata. Among the highly educated families, parents’ characteristics account over one sixth of genetic influences, while in less educated families parents’ resources explain less than five percent at the maximum.

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 Presented in Session 114. Life Course influences on Children's Outcomes