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Maternal Genetic Risk for Depression and Child Human Capital


  • Menta, Giorgia


  • Lepinteur, Anthony

    (University of Luxembourg)

  • Clark, Andrew E.

    (Paris School of Economics)

  • Ghislandi, Simone

    (Bocconi University)

  • D'Ambrosio, Conchita

    (University of Luxembourg)


We here address the causal relationship between the maternal genetic risk for depression and child human capital using UK birth-cohort data. We find that an increase of one standard deviation (SD) in the maternal polygenic risk score for depression reduces their children's cognitive and non-cognitive skill scores by 5 to 7% of a SD throughout adolescence. Our results are robust to a battery of sensitivity tests addressing, among others, concerns about pleiotropy and dynastic effects. Our Gelbach decomposition analysis suggests that the strongest mediator is genetic nurture (through maternal depression itself), with genetic inheritance playing only a marginal role.

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  • Menta, Giorgia & Lepinteur, Anthony & Clark, Andrew E. & Ghislandi, Simone & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2022. "Maternal Genetic Risk for Depression and Child Human Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 15798, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp15798

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    More about this item


    maternal depression; human capital; ALSPAC;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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