CCHE Seminar Series: Genetic Endowments for Education and Social Capital

Genetic Endowments for Education and Social Capital

Michael Lebenbaum
University of Toronto

Friday March 4, 2022, 10am-12pm, Zoom

Abstract: Despite social capital having been shown to be important for health and well-being, relatively little research has examined genetic determinants. Genetic endowments for education have been shown to influence human, financial, and health capital, but few studies have examined social capital and those conducted have not accounted for genetic nurturing. We used the Add-Health data to study the effect of genetic endowments on individual social capital (i.e., volunteering, religious service attendance, number of friends) using the education polygenic score (PGS). We used sibling fixed effects models and controlled for the family environment to account for genetic nurturing. After accounting for the family environment, we found large significant associations between the education PGS and volunteering but associations with religious service attendance and number of friends were completely attenuated in sibling fixed effects models. These findings highlight that genetic endowments play an important role in influencing volunteering and the importance of accounting for genetic nurturing.

Michael Lebenbaum is a PhD candidate with a concentration in Health Economics at the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto. He holds a MSc in Epidemiology from Western University and is also an epidemiologist in the Mental Health and Addictions program at ICES Central. His research interests include health economics, health technology assessment, and epidemiological research focused on social capital and mental health.