The Chronicle of Higher Education
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Young men are less likely to attend college if they carry a common form of a gene associated with poor impulse control, a new study has found. But the study also found that a strong environment—a high-quality high school and heavily involved parents—can counteract that genetic risk. For boys with this gene who grow up in supportive environments, there was no drop in college attendance.
The study, which was written by three sociologists and a behavioral geneticist, examined genes and survey data from more than 2,500 people who have participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The paper appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Sociology, which was published last week.
The lead author, Michael J. Shanahan, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, insists that the study should not be used to support fatalism or genetic determinism. On the contrary, he says, the study offers a new kind of evidence about the roles that social institutions play in reproducing or ameliorating inequality. ...
Among white men, 59.3 percent of those without DRD2 risk continued their educations beyond high school, whereas only 44.4 percent of those with DRD2 risk did so. Among African-American men, 51.5 percent of those without DRD2 risk continued their educations, but only 34.7 percent of those with DRD2 risk did so.
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