2D:4D and lifetime educational outcomes: Evidence from the Russian RLMS survey
Does in utero exposure to testosterone – as proxied by measured 2D:4D digit ratios – affect lifetime educational outcomes? A growing body of work finds 2D:4D to be associated with aggression, physical fitness, performance in computer science, and type of occupation. While most work tends to show a negative relationship between 2D:4D and outcomes, the link between 2D:4D and male aggression should mean that prenatal T could also have negative effects for some outcomes. Using a large sample of families in Moscow and the Moscow region drawn from the Russian RLMS-HSE longitudinal survey, we observe clear links between measured 2D:4D digit ratios and the levels of education obtained by men. Statistically significant positive associations of 2D:4D (lower prenatal T) with higher levels of education were found, using difference in means analysis as well as generalized ordered logit regressions. These findings were also robust to using different subsamples. Weaker findings were seen for women. Since many of the earlier findings have showed the benefits of higher prenatal T for achievement, the current finding of a negative effect of prenatal T on educational attainment raises interesting issues about the ambiguous effects of prenatal T.