Differential Parenting by Offspring Genetic Makeup

Asta Breinholt , University of Michigan
Dalton Conley, New York University (NYU)

Socioeconomically advantaged families can draw on greater economic, social and cultural resources to compensate for adverse child development or to reinforce positive child development. Previous research has shown differential parental response by socioeconomic status to children's birth weight, early cognitive ability, and school outcomes – all early life predictors of later socioeconomic success. This study considers an even earlier predictor: children's genotype. We analyze (1) whether parents reinforce or compensate for children’s genetic propensity towards educational success, and (2) whether reinforcement (or compensation) differs by family SES. Using data from the ALSPAC (N=7,291), we construct polygenic scores for educational attainment and regress these on cognitively stimulating parenting in early childhood. Results show that lower SES parents provide more cognitively stimulating activities during early childhood to children with higher polygenic scores for educational attainment, while higher SES parents do not alter their behavior in response to the genetic predisposition of offspring.

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 Presented in Session 199. Families and Inequality