The effect of Vietnam-era conscription and genetic potential for educational attainment on schooling outcomes

This study examines whether draft lottery estimates of the causal effects of Vietnam-era military service on schooling vary by an individual's genetic propensity toward educational attainment. To capture the complex genetic architecture that underlies the bio-developmental pathways, behavioral traits and evoked environments associated with educational attainment, we construct polygenic scores (PGS) for respondents in the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) that aggregate thousands of individual loci across the human genome and weight them by effect sizes derived from a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) of years of education. Our findings suggest veterans with below average PGSs for educational attainment may have completed fewer years of schooling than comparable non-veterans. On the other hand, we do not find any difference in the educational attainment of veterans and non-veterans with above average PGSs. Results indicate that public policies and exogenous environments may induce heterogeneous treatment effects by genetic disposition.