Educational attainment is only slightly impacted by genes
We need to pay more attention to the role of genetic differences in determining educational outcomes. And we should reflect more than we do on whether society should value and reward those who are genetically endowed with high levels of cognitive intelligence over those with other talents that might be just as socially (and economically) valuable. After all, children have as little influence over how they fare in the genetic lottery as over whether they are born into a poor or rich family. However, we should also be careful not to overemphasise the influence of genetics on academic performance. This book, while making the case for paying more attention to genetics in relation to inequality, cites a study that found that only about 12% of variation in educational attainment was due to genetics. This is probably an underestimate, but it is still clear that the vast majority of variation in people’s education is influenced by other factors. Hard work plays an important role, of course. But socio-economic status also has a huge impact on educational outcomes, as explored elsewhere in this index.