Many workers assume that genetically determined differences in intellectual ability will be influenced little by changes in educational policy or other environmental interventions. Others, however, have suggested that increasing equality of educational opportunity will lead to an increase in the heritability of educational attainment. The resolution of this issue has been delayed until now because of the extremely large sample sizes which would be required. Education data on twins and their parents, from the Norwegian twin panel, provide a unique opportunity to determine the impact on the heritability of educational attainment of the more liberal social and educational policies introduced in Norway after the Second World War. As reported here, for individuals born before 1940 there is a strong effect of family background on educational attainment, accounting for 47% of the variance, though genetic factors account for an additional 41% of the variance. For females born after 1940 and before 1961, the relative importance of genetic (38-45%) and familial environmental (41-50%) differences changes very little. For males born during the same period, the broad heritability of educational attainment has increased substantially (67-74%), and the environmental impact of family background has correspondingly decreased (8-10%). For males, at least, having well-educated parents no longer predicts educational success, as measured by duration of education, independent of the individual's own innate abilities.
Height was measured in a health screening of the population in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway. Correlations were computed for 24,281 pairs of spouses, 43,613 pairs of parents and offspring, 19,168 pairs of siblings, 1,318 pairs of grandparents and grandchildren, 1,218 cognate avuncular pairs, 849 noncognate avuncular pairs, 175 pairs of same-sexed twins, and smaller groups of other types of relatives. Fitting of structural equation models showed proportions of additive genetic variance of approximately 0.8 for both sexes and small sex-specific effects that probably reflect genetic dominance or environmental sibling effects. The correlations between parents and offspring were significantly lower in old than young cohorts, seeming to imply some kind of interaction effect between genes and environment.
Systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressures were measured in a health screening of the adult population in Nord-Trøndelag, Norway. Correlations were computed for 23,936 pairs of spouses, 43,586 pairs of parent and offspring, 19,151 pairs of siblings, 1,251 pairs of grandparents-grandchildren, 1,146 pairs of biological uncles/aunts-nephews/nieces (avuncular), 801 non-biological avuncular pairs, 169 pairs of same-sex twins, and smaller groups of other types of relationships. Spouse correlations of 0.08 and 0.09 were approximately constant or slightly decreasing with marital duration. The correlation values for SBP and DBP were approximately 0.16 for parents-offspring, 0.19 to 0.23 for same-sex siblings with similar values for DZ twins, 0.19 and 0.16 for opposite-sex siblings, 0.52 and 0.43 for MZ twins, and close to zero for most of the second-order relationships. Genetic additive variance was estimated at 0.29 and genetic dominance variance at 0.18 with the best model for SBP. The corresponding estimates from the best models for DBP were 0.29 or lower and 0.22 or lower, the sum not exceeding 0.35. There was evidence of a moderate effect of environmental factors shared by same-sex siblings and twins (for DBP), but no cultural transmission, and whether or not adult relatives live together does not affect familial resemblance for BP. The data did not permit a very precise resolution of the relative magnitude of genetic dominance and sibling effects. The correlation structure did not show sex-specific genetic effects.