This study presents a multivariate behavioural genetic analysis of the relationship between education, intelligence and age of first birth. Analyses investigated the mediational role of education in explaining the relationship between intelligence and age of first birth at both the phenotypic and behavioural genetic level. The data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), a nationally representative survey that included genetically informative full- and half-sibling pairs (n=1423 pairs). Respondents were aged 14 to 22 when contacted in 1979. Heritability estimates were 0·32, 0·50 and 0·06 for IQ, education and age of first birth, respectively. Shared environment estimates were 0·35, 0·23 and 0·20 respectively. Common genetic and shared environmental factors were substantial in explaining the relationship between intelligence and education, and also education and age of first birth. Education partially mediated the relationship between intelligence and age of first birth only in the phenotypic analyses. After considering the genetic and shared environmental factors that influence all three variables, evidence for mediation was less convincing. This pattern of results suggests that the apparent mediational role of education at the phenotypic level is in fact the result of underlying genetic and shared environmental influences that affect education, IQ and age of first birth in common.
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