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The Effect of Vietnam-Era Conscription and Genetic Potential for Educational Attainment on Schooling Outcomes

Lauren L. Schmitz, Dalton Conley

NBER Working Paper No. 22393
Issued in July 2016
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education, Health Economics

This study examines whether draft-lottery estimates of the causal effect of Vietnam-era military service on schooling vary by genetic propensity toward educational attainment. To capture the complex genetic architecture that underlies the bio-developmental pathways behavioral traits and evoked environments associated with educational attainment, we construct a polygenic score (PGS) for the Vietnam-era cohort in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) that aggregates thousands of individual loci across the human genome, weighted by effect sizes derived from a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) for years of education. Our findings suggest veterans with below average PGSs for educational attainment completed fewer years of schooling than comparable non-veterans with the same PGS, primarily due to fewer years of college education. On the other hand, we do not find any difference in the educational attainment of veterans and non-veterans with above average PGSs. Results show that public policies and exogenous environments may induce heterogeneous treatment effects by genetic disposition.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22393

Published: Lauren L. Schmitz & Dalton Conley, 2017. "The Effect of Vietnam-Era Conscription and Genetic Potential for Educational Attainment on Schooling Outcomes," Economics of Education Review, .

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