Genetic and environmental influences on vocabulary IQ: parental education level as moderator

Child Dev. Sep-Oct 1999;70(5):1151-62. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00084.


This article examines how parental education level moderates the genetic and environmental contributions to variation in verbal IQ. Data are from 1909 non-Hispanic Whites and African American sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which obtained nationally-based samples of identical (MZ) twins, fraternal (DZ) twins, full and half siblings, cousins (in the same household), and biologically unrelated siblings. In the whole sample, the variance estimate for heritability (h2 = .57, SE = .08) was greater than that for shared environment (c2 = .13, SE = .04). Both heritability and the shared environmental estimate were moderated, however, by level of parental education. Specifically, among more highly educated families, the average h2 = .74 (SE = .10) and the average c2 = .00 (SE = .05). Conversely, among less well-educated families, heritability decreased and shared environmental influences increased, yielding similar proportions of variance explained by genetic and environmental factors, average h2 = .26 (SE = .15), and average c2 = .23 (SE = .07).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Rearing*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Educational Status
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetics
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Social Environment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Teaching*
  • Twins / psychology
  • Vocabulary*