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In Italy, North-South Differences in Student Performance Are Mirrored by Differences in Polygenic Scores for Educational Attainment

Davide Piffer and Richard Lynn


Published: 2022/06/01


In Italy, there is a consistent north-south gradient in economic development, education, intelligence (IQ) and stature. The aim of this paper is to investigate the possible genetic cause of differences in educational attainment by using publicly available DNA data and recent genetic predictive models. Principal components analysis confirmed the presence of a high degree of population structure and clusters with little overlap between northern and southern Italy, corresponding to traditional macro-regions (Northern, Central, and Southern). This ancestry component correlates with the polygenic scores (PGS) for educational attainment (r = .2 to .3). The differences in the genetic scores for educational attainment and height follow the same north-south gradient and are of similar magnitude to the measured phenotypic differences (Cohen’s d is 0.5 to 0.6). Key Words: Italy, Inequality, Intelligence, Cognitive ability, Education, Genetics, Polygenic score

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