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November 29, 2004

The Nurture Assumption

Kevin Drum continues his stirring of the hornet's nest, this time linking to Alex Taborrok's post on a recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper by Bruce Sacerdote that examined the outcomes of Korean children who were randomly assigned to adoptive families back in the the 70's. Jane Galt also picks up the item. We should compare and contrast how the readership of these two different blogs reacts to the research.

Sacerdote pretty much supports the thesis put forward by Judith Rich Harris in her book, The Nurture Assumption which boils down to the fact that parenting doesn't matter all that much in determining how well the children do later in life. (Sailer's review and Harris' shorter version published in Psychological Review and Jason Malloy's review of the Harris-Kagan dispute.) What does emerge from the paper is that genetics does matter and the causality arrow for the high income or college educated mother may actually start at the genetic level rather than at the environmental level.

Sacerdote finds that family income had no effect on the eventual incomes of the adoptive children but did influence the biological children. Also, he found that college graduation rates, height and obesity all have stronger correlations for biological children than for the adoptive children.

The tide continues to roll in.

Posted by TangoMan at 12:59 PM