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Genetic contributions to inequality of opportunity

Project description

The genes for college study

Children from low-income households with high standardised test or exam scores are less likely to attend college than children with equal test scores from high income households. While family income is a significant factor determining a student’s enrolment at college, it is not the only one. The EU-funded GENIO project will explore genetics as recent studies have identified specific genetic variants contributing to inequality of opportunity. Specifically, the project will develop a methodological framework to study the genetic variants. It will exploit bioinformatics techniques to measure genetic endowments, econometric techniques to measure returns to genes and inequality of opportunity. The project will also study how socioeconomic inequality of opportunity varies by sex and geographic location.

Objective

Equal access to college education is a hallmark of egalitarian societies. This is not the case in both the United Kingdom and United States: children from low income households with high standardized test or exam scores are less likely to attend college than children with equal test scores from high income households. However, eliminating family income as a source of unequal college access may still leave inequality of opportunity to attend college and accordingly to accumulate wealth based on another family factor: genetics. Educational attainment is partially heritable, and recent studies have identified specific genetic variants. Despite both a longstanding debate and recent interest in the topic, there is no methodological framework for studying genetic contributions to inequality of opportunity. The first aim of the project is to develop this methodological framework [OB1] by exploiting bioinformatics techniques to measure genetic endowments, econometric techniques to measure returns to genes and inequality of opportunity, and by using sociological theory to interpret the findings and address any normative implications [WP1]. The considered outcomes are income, wealth, and overall health and well-being, as higher educated individuals typically enjoy longer, healthier, and happier lives in addition to higher incomes and accumulated wealth. The second aim [OB2] of the project is to apply this methodological framework to visualize how socioeconomic inequality of opportunity varies by sex and geographic location [WP2]. The third aim of the project [OB3] is explore how the population-level applications developed in [WP1] and [WP2] carry over to the individual level [WP3]. The project crosses disciplinary boundaries by incorporating knowledge and tools from genomics, econometrics, epidemiology, and sociology.

Coordinator

THE CHANCELLOR, MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
Address
WELLINGTON SQUARE UNIVERSITY OFFICES
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom

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Region
South East (England) Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Oxfordshire
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
Total cost
€ 212 933,76