A recently released, global study has identified 74 genes that could play a role in how long a person attends school, and whether or not they go to university.
Researchers, including a team from The University of Queensland (UQ), analysed genetic information from 300,000 people to determine any links to education attainment.
Professor Peter Visscher of UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute, said genetics may account for as much as 20 per cent variation in how much schooling a person received.
“Your level of education determines so many other aspects of how your life unfolds,” Professor Visscher said. “There is a widely-accepted relationship between educational attainment and health outcomes, but we don’t fully understand its causes.
“And that’s one reason for conducting this research – because of its relevance for broader medical research.”
In one example of how the research has raised further questions for investigation, results indicate the genes associated with higher educational attainment were associated with decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease on average.
“These tiny genetic differences may ultimately help to understand why some people are more susceptible to early cognitive decline than others,” said Professor Visscher.
The research, conducted by the Social Science Genetic Asasociation Consortium was published in Nature.