Is it just the genes? Perhaps other factors come in to play such as motivation, family encouragement, and quality of the education environment.
This is a terrible article. Read the Guardian version for a much more clear and balanced interpretation of the results:
"But the effect is very small. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the researchers estimate that it corresponds to a drop in IQ of about 0.04 points per decade. If all the genes that contribute to education were included, they add, that figure might rise to 0.3 points per decade. Nevertheless, Stefansson believes that if the trend continued for **centuries**, the impact could be serious...Stefansson concedes that changes in education can swamp any genetic effects, writing that IQ scores rose by nearly 14 points between 1932 and 1978, as technological and socioeconomic changes boosted education on a mass scale. “There are all kinds of things in the environment that may prevent this decline having all that much impact on the true education that people receive,” he said.
This is not surprising. There is a very significant correlation between education attainment and fertility in women
There are many reasons
- Educated women have more opportunities, children get in the way of these oppertunities
- Several personality factors (e.g ambition) that correlated with desire for education, anti-correlate with wanting to start a family. This could also explain why in the study, that people with genes that correlation with reduction have less children - even if they are no educated themselves.
- Education typically correlates with more liberal beliefs, which means a greater willingness for contraception and abortion.
Traditionally, prior to 1900, these effects were often counteracted by the fact that
1. Less educated people tend to suffer far higher infant/ child-birth mortality
2. Less educated people had a high chance of dying before fathering anyone (through way, famine etc)
3. There were no reliable means of contraception/abortion
4. Women had little opportunities to be educated, nor choice on whether to have children.
5. Ambitious men had the opportunity to father a lot of children (e.g. Genghis Khan).
6. Cost to lifestyle costs a *lot* more for educated people. e.g. jobs require high levels of education are typically in big cities, where the extra room to house a kid is prohibitively expensive.
Like these factors balanced, producing more genetic pressure towards traits that favor education.
At the danger of sounding *very* controversial. Unfortunately I don't think the solution is more education. It is education that caused this effect (giving ambitious people more opportunistic than having children, especially women). Obviously, I am *not* advocating we stop educating women, but I think the following steps could be useful
- Drastically *reduce* the opportunity cost for having children, especially for women. State sponsored maternity leave, give companies extra subsidies to compensate for loss of staff. Pay women with children an extra bonus that is proportional to their salary/education level.
- Promote sperm donations, as this one of the few areas where highly educated genes are favored (most people prefer choosing sperm of successful people).
- Remove stigma on on Surrogacy and even subsidize it, allowing educated women to have children without the associated opportunity cost.
As you can see, these are already pretty controversial, and would probably never pass the vote in any democratic country.
So... idiocracy it is.
This is a hot mess. There is no "Gene" for going though higher education. Hell in 1920 in Iceland women weren't even allowed to pursue higher education in that country.
This is some knock off science that they even admit has no merit.
>Again, this is all speculation is only based on one country, and it's incredibly difficult to predict what's going to happen to humans in the distant future.
weak conclusions but it is something important that se should pay atention to.
I don't know if it's "education genes" (doesn't seem like there's even such a thing ). It's a fact of life however that people with higher education have less children on average. That's a factual observation which doesn't need genes or any kind of even vaguely eugenic perspective.
Is this the only thing the gene does? I doubt it. I suspect several confounding factors are at work here.