Using Genetic Markers as Instrumental Variables to Unravel the Link between Education and Fertility

N. Barban, M. Mills, J.J. Mandemakers, H. Snieder

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


We present a novel approach to examine the influence of biological limits to reproduction. We use a set of validated genetic markers from published GWAS studies on phenotypes related to infertility (endometriosis and (early) menopause) in order to create polygenic infertility problem risk scores. We hypothesize that women carrying more ‘infertility risk’ alleles are at increased risk of childlessness and decreased completed fertility. Second, we hypothesize that women from later cohorts and more educated women will be more vulnerable to genetically endowed infertility problems, as they may postpone childbearing to a greater extent. Preliminary analyses using the Dutch LifeLines cohort show that a higher predicted genetic risk increases the likelihood of childlessness and lowers completed fertility, but only for lower educated women. Contrary to the postponement hypothesis, higher educated women are less affected by predicted genetic risk scores. We interpret these educational differences as protective effects because higher educated women may have better health, less stress, healthier lifestyle, and more access to health care. Future versions of this paper will replicate these analyses using the TwinsUK and HRS cohorts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventEuropean Population Conference 2014. Budapest, Hungary -
Duration: 25 Jun 201428 Jun 2014


ConferenceEuropean Population Conference 2014. Budapest, Hungary

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