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Genes Associated with Educational Attainment on the Decline

Interesting new research from a genetics company based in Iceland indicates that genes associated with extended educational attainment are on the decline.

deCODE studied 130,000 individuals to arrive at its findings, which specifically found that over an 80-year period, individuals with genes associated with educational attainment had fewer and fewer children. 

While many people assume that those with these genes have fewer children because they are busy pursuing higher education and pursuing career goals as opposed to focusing on procreating, the researchers say their work indicates something much more complex.

"Many seeking higher education may simply be too busy to procreate. But that may only be part of the picture. Researchers believe that the education genes may also be somehow linked to fertility since those with the same genes who dropped out of school also had fewer children," said Smithsonian.com.

Though the decline in individuals with these "education" genes is very slight from decade to decade, researchers claim the effects will be drastic from century to century.

"As a species, we are defined by the power of our brains. Education is the training and refining of our mental capacities. Thus, it is fascinating to find that genetic factors linked to more time spent in education are becoming rarer in the gene pool," said deCODE's CEO Kari Stefansson in a press release.

Although, the researcher added, all hope is not lost. By increasing the quality of and access to educational institutions, Stefansson says humanity has a real shot of avoiding becoming a population dominated by the low-IQ.

"In spite of the negative selection against these sequence variations, education levels have been increasing for decades. Indeed, we control the environment in which these genetic factors play out: the education system. If we continue to improve the availability and quality of educational opportunities, we will presumably continue to improve the educational level of society as a whole. Time will tell whether the decline of the genetic propensity for education will have a notable impact on human society," Dr. Stefansson said in the release.

Researchers have been focused on finding links between genetics and educational attainment. In August 2015, a study of 1,594 siblings found that genetic make-up can predict the amount of schooling an individual will receive.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

2/3/2017

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