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2D:4D and lifetime educational outcomes: Evidence from the Russian RLMS Survey

Bruhanov M., Nye J. V., Polyachenko S. S.
Is in utero exposure to testosterone (T), measured by the second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D), associated with lifetime educational attainment? A growing body of work finds exposure to prenatal T to be associated with aggression, physical fitness, performance in computer science, and type of occupation. However, there has not yet been substantial research its relationship with lifetime educational outcomes. Using a large sample drawn from families in Moscow and in the Moscow region from the Russian Longitudinal Measurement Survey (RLMS), we observe clear links between measured 2D:4D and the levels of education obtained by men. Statistically significant positive associations between higher 2D:4D (lower prenatal T) and higher levels of education were found, using difference in means analysis and generalized ordered logit (gologit) regressions. These findings were also robust to using a different subsample. Weaker findings were seen for women. Since many of the earlier findings have shown 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 and the degree to which the traits it promotes interact with different tasks and social contexts.