GEIGHEI: Gene-Environment Interplay in the Generation of Health and Education Inequalities
About the project
This project examines how Genes and the Environment (GxE) interact to generate inequalities in education and health over the life course. The project goes beyond the old nature versus nurture debate by testing two novel hypotheses: 1) children born into advantaged environments are better able to reach their genetically conditioned education potential, and 2) a privileged environment protects against genetic susceptibility to risky health behaviour. Both hypotheses propose a GxE interplay that influences the transition from early childhood to adulthood in periods that are critical to the generation of inequalities.
The team ensured access to four additional datasets (AddHealth, FFS, Lifelines, Understanding Society), is digitizing infant mortality rates for almost 40 cohorts and ~1500 districts of the United Kingdom, organized two conferences (one in Rotterdam, one in Bristol) to discuss research ideas and present preliminary work, supervised six bachelor theses, five MSc theses, produced four publications, started work on nineteen projects, and contributed to two podcasts to disseminate the work.
A few preliminary punchlines of ongoing research projects include:
- An advantageous early-life environment (as measured by low infant mortality rates) is able to mitigate genetic susceptibility to heart disease
- Genetic advantage does not cushion babies against the effect of maternal smoking on birthweight
- Individuals with high genetic propensity towards alcohol consumption concentrate into areas with a higher density of pubs in the UK.
- When hit by a negative health shock, individuals with a low genetic propensity to smoke stop smoking at a higher rate
- Children with lower genetic propensity for educational attainment are hampered more by being later-born
Dr J.L.W. van Kippersluis
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Dr P. Biroli
Dr S. Von Hinke
University of Bristol
The University of Tartu is Cooperation Partner to this project.