Could a person’s genes determine whether they are more likely to complete school or not? A group of Queensland scientists has been part of a global study looking at this very question. The study found that some people had variants of genes in their DNA that correlated with educational attainment. In total, scientists identified 74 genetic variants associated with the number of school years a person completed.
The study, conducted by the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, studied the genomes of nearly 300,000 people across Europe, USA and Australia to see if they carried any of the variants. Professor Peter Visscher, from the UQ Queensland Brain Institute, was involved in the study and said the genes identified were a very tiny fraction of the estimated 20 per cent of DNA variants associated with levels of education. He explained that 'educational attainment is a complex phenomenon, and mostly influenced by social and other environmental factors'. Some of the other important factors involved apart from genes include poverty, geography and nutrition.
So while the study makes interesting reading, the majority of scientists seem to agree that the impact of genes seems to be minuscule and educational attainment is not a good measurement of intellectual achievement.