We will examine how Genes and the Environment (GxE) interact to generate inequalities in education and health over the life course. We will go beyond the old nature versus nurture debate by testing two novel hypotheses:

  • Children born into advantaged environments are better able to reach their genetically conditioned education potential
  • A privileged environment protects against genetic susceptibility to risky health behaviour.

Both hypotheses propose a GxE interplay that influences the transition from early childhood to adulthood in periods that are critical to the generation of inequalities.

We innovate by combining methods from genetics and social science. Building on the discovery of genetic variants that exhibit robust associations with behavioural outcomes and the recent availability of large datasets with information on both environments and genes, we will grasp unprecedented opportunities to fill the gap in knowledge about the combined role of genes and environments in causing inequality. By taking account of the endogenous, multifaceted and dynamic nature of the environment, the research promises a sustained impact by identifying policy interventions that ameliorate inequalities. For example, we will test whether high-quality child care can overcome genetic disadvantage in educational attainment.

Find out more in our research page.


Research is funded by the New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE), under the project: Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course: structures and processes (NORFACE-DIAL). More information can be found on their homepage.

Grant number: 462-16-100