Genetic and environmental contributions to the association between body height and educational attainment: a study of adult Finnish twins

Behav Genet. 2000 Nov;30(6):477-85. doi: 10.1023/a:1010202902159.


The nature of the association between body height and educational attainment found in previous studies remains to be clarified. The aim of this study was to examine factors contributing to this association by using a large Finnish twin data set (8798 adult twin pairs) gathered by questionnaire in 1981. A bivariate twin analysis was used to determine whether the genetic and environmental factors behind body height and educational attainment correlate with each other. A high heritability was found for body height (h2 = 0.78 in men and h2 = 0.75 in women), and a moderate heritability for education (h2 = 0.47 and h2 = 0.43, respectively). Shared environmental effects were also important in body height (c2 = 0.12 in men and c2 = 0.11 in women) and education (c2 = 0.36 and c2 = 0.43, respectively). A high correlation (r(c) = 0.77 in men, r(c) = 0.58 in women) of shared environmental factors education and body height, and weaker correlations (r = 0.11 and r = 0.08, respectively) of unshared environmental factors were found. The correlation of genetic factors between these two characteristics was not statistically significant. The results suggest that the association between body height and education is due mainly to nongenetic family factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Height / genetics*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Social Environment*
  • Twins / genetics