The Atlantic

An Enormous Study of the Genes Related to Staying in School

Researchers have found 1,271 gene variants associated with years of formal education. That’s important, but not for the obvious reasons.
Source: Robert Benson / Getty Images

When scientists publish their research, it’s rare for them to write an accompanying FAQ that explains what they found and what it means. It’s especially rare for that FAQ to be three times longer than the research paper itself. But Daniel Benjamin and his colleagues felt the need to do so, because they work on a topic that is frequently and easily misunderstood: the genetics of education.

Over the past five years, Benjamin has been part of an international team of researchers identifying variations in the human genome that are associated with how many years of education people get. In 2013, after analyzing the DNA of 101,000 people, the team found just three of these genetic variants. , they identified 71 more after tripling the size of their study.

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