Dalton Conley

Henry Putnam Professor of Sociology
Faculty affiliate, The Bendheim-Thomas Center for Research on Child Wellbeing
157 Wallace Hall

Ph.D. Biology (Genomics)
New York University, School of Arts and Sciences, 2014


Dalton Conley is the Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology and a faculty affiliate at the Office of Population Research and the Center for Health and Wellbeing.  He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), and in a pro bono capacity he serves as Dean of Health Sciences for the University of the People, a tuition-free, accredited, online college committed to expanding access to higher education.  

Conley’s scholarship has primarily dealt with the intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic and health status from parents to children.  This focus has led him to study (among other topics): the impact of parental wealth in explaining racial attainment gaps; the causal impact of birthweight (as a heuristic for the literal overlap of the generations) on later health and educational outcomes; sibling differences that appear to reflect the triumph of achievement over ascription (but which may, in fact, merely reflect within-family stratification processes); and, finally, genetics as a driver of both social mobility and reproduction.

He earned a M.P.A. in Public Policy (1992) and a Ph.D. in Sociology (1996) from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Biology from NYU in 2014. His books include Being Black, Living in the Red; The Starting GateHonky; The Pecking Order; You May Ask YourselfElsewhere, USA;Parentology; and The Genome Factor. He has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Russell Sage Foundation fellowships as well as a CAREER Award and the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation.  He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Selected Publications

Conley, D. (2020). Toward a two-dimensional conception of socioeconomic status for health policy. Milbank Quarterly Opinion, December 17 doi:https://doi.org/10.1599/mqop.2020.1217

Conley, D. (2020). Who you gonna call? COVID-19 and the future of telemedicine. Milbank Quarterly Opinion, July 15 doi:https://doi.org/10.1599/mqop.2020.0715

Conley, D., & Schanzenbach, D. W. (2020). Invest in school-based health centers to improve child health. Milbank Quarterly Opinion, December 23 doi:https://doi.org/10.1599/mqop.2020.1224

Johnson, T., Dawes, C. T., & Conley, D. (2020). How does a statistician raise an army? the time when john W. tukey, a team of luminaries, and a statistics graduate student repaired the vietnam selective service lotteries. The American Statistician, 74(2), 190. doi:DOI: 10.1080/00031305.2019.1677267

McMartin, A., & Conley, D. (2020). Commentary: Mendelian randomization and education-challenges remain. International Journal of Epidemiology, 49(1), 1193. doi:doi: 10.1093/ije/dyaa160
PMID: 33029641

McMartin, A., & Conley, D. (2020). Commentary: Mendelian randomization and education–Challenges remain  . International Journal of Epidemiology, 49(4), 1193. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyaa160

Mostafavi, H., Harpak, A., Agarwal, I., Conley, D., Pritchard, J. K., & Przeworski, M. (2020). Variable prediction accuracy of polygenic scores within an ancestry group. Elife, 9, e48376. doi:https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.48376

Conley, D. (2019). From fraternities to DNA: The challenge genetic prediction poses to insurance markets. The Milbank Quarterly, 97(1), 40. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0009.12365

Conley, D., & Johnson, T. (2019). Deaths of despair: Lessons from the vietnam draft lottery. The Milbank Quarterly, 97(4), 914. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0009.12423

Conley, D., Siegal, M. L., Domingue, B. W., Harris, K. M., McQueen, M. B., & Boardman, J. D. (2019). Author correction: Testing the key assumption of heritability estimates based on genome-wide genetic relatedness. Journal of Human Genetics, 64(6), 597. doi:doi: 10.1038/s10038-019-0593-5
PMID: 30940889

Conley, D., Sotoudeh, R., & Laidley, T. M. (2019). Birth weight and development: Bias or heterogeneity by polygenic risk factors?
. Population Research and Policy Review, 38(6), 811. doi:DOI: 10.1007/s11113-019-09559-6

Johnson, T., & Conley, D. (2019). Civilian public sector employment as a long-run outcome of military conscription. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(43), 21456. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1908983116

Laidley, T., Domingue, B., Sinsub, P., Harris, K. M., & Conley, D. (2019). New evidence of skin color bias and health outcomes using sibling difference models: A research note. Demography, 56(2), 753.

Sotoudeh, R., Harris, K. M., & Conley, D. (2019). Effects of the peer metagenomic environment on smoking behavior . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(33), 16302. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1806901116

Tchernichovski, O., & Conley, D. (2019). A genetically tailored education for birds. Nature, 575(7782), 290. doi:doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-03416-4
PMID: 31712705

Tchernichovski, O., Parra, L. C., Fimiarz, D., Lotem, A., & Conley, D. (2019). Crowd wisdom enhanced by costly signaling in a virtual rating system . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116(15), 7256. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1817392116

Belsky, D. W., Domingue, B. W., Wedow, R., Arseneault, L., Boardman, J. D., Caspi, A., . . . Harris, K. M. (2018). Genetic analysis of social-class mobility in five longitudinal studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(46), E10998. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1801238115

Conley, D., Johnson, R., Domingue, B., Dawes, C., Boardman, J., & Siegal, M. L. (2018). Correction: A sibling method for identifying vQTLs. PloS One, 13(5), e0196881. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196881

Conley, D., Johnson, R., Domingue, B., Dawes, C., Boardman, J., & Siegal, M. L. (2018). A sibling method for identifying vQTLs. PloS One, 13(4), e0194541. doi:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0194541

Conley, D., & Zhang, S. (2018). The promise of genes for understanding cause and effect. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(22), 5626. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1805585115

Domingue, B. W., Belsky, D. W., Fletcher, J. M., Conley, D., Boardman, J. D., & Harris, K. M. (2018). The social genome of friends and schoolmates in the national longitudinal study of adolescent to adult health. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(4), 702. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1711803115

Domingue, B. W., Rehkopf, D. H., Conley, D., & Boardman, J. D. (2018). Geographic clustering of polygenic scores at different stages of the life course. The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 4(4), 137. doi:https://doi.org/10.7758/rsf.2018.4.4.08

Laidley, T., & Conley, D. (2018). The effects of active and passive leisure on cognition in children: Evidence from exogenous variation in weather. Social Forces, 97(1), 129. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/soy020

Lee, J. J., ...Conley, D., & et, a. (2018). Gene discovery and polygenic prediction from a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in 1.1 million individuals. Nature Genetics, 50(8), 1112. doi:doi:10.1038/s41588-018-0147-3

Conley, D. (2017). The challenges of GxE: Commentary on "genetic endowments, parental resources and adult health: Evidence from the young Finns Study". Social Science & Medicine, 188, 201. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.06.040
PMID: 28689629

Domingue, B. W., Belsky, D. W., Harrati, A., Conley, D., Weir, D. R., & Boardman, J. D. (2017). Mortality selection in a genetic sample and implications for association studies. International Journal of Epidemiology, 46(4), 1285. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyx041

McCord, G. C., Conley, D., & Sachs, J. D. (2017). Malaria ecology, child mortality & fertility. Economics and Human Biology, 24, 1. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ehb.2016.10.011

Schmitz, L. L., & Conley, D. (2017). The effect of vietnam-era conscription and genetic potential for educational attainment on schooling outcomes. Economics of Education Review, 61, 85. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2017.10.001

Schmitz, L., & Conley, D. (2017). Modeling gene-environment interactions with quasi-natural experiments. Journal of Personalized Medicine, 85(1), 10.
PMID: 26340722

Tchernichovski, O., Feher, O., Fimiarz, D., & Conley, D. (2017). How social learning adds up to a culture: From birdsong to human public opinion. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 220(Pt 1), 124. doi:https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.142786

Conley, D., & Domingue, B. (2016). The bell curve revisited: Testing controversial hypotheses with molecular genetic data. Sociological Science, 3, 520. doi:https://doi.org/10.15195/v3.a23

Conley, D., Laidley, T. M., Boardman, J. D., & Domingue, B. W. (2016). Changing polygenic penetrance on phenotypes in the 20(th) century among adults in the US population. Scientific Reports, 6, 30348. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/srep30348

Conley, D., Laidley, T., Belsky, D. W., Fletcher, J. M., Boardman, J. D., & Domingue, B. W. (2016). Assortative mating and differential fertility by phenotype and genotype across the 20th century . Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(24), 6647. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1523592113

Conley, D., & Malaspina, D. (2016). Socio-genomics and structural competency. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 13(2), 193. doi:doi: 10.1007/s11673-016-9716-2
PMID: 27251402.

Conley, D., & Sotoudeh, R. (2016). Genotyping the dead: Using offspring as proxy to estimate the genetic correlation of education and longevity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(47), 13269. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1616274113

Domingue, B. W., Conley, D., Fletcher, J., & Boardman, J. D. (2016). Cohort effects in the genetic influence on smoking. Behavior Genetics, 46(1), 31. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10519-015-9731-9

Domingue, B. W., Wedow, R., Conley, D., McQueen, M., Hoffmann, T. J., & Boardman, J. D. (2016). Genome-wide estimates of heritability for social demographic outcomes. Biodemography and Social Biology, 62(1), 1. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/19485565.2015.1068106

Okbay, A., ... Conley, D., & et, a. (2016). Genetic variants associated with subjective well-being, depressive symptoms, and neuroticism identified through genome-wide analyses. Nature Genetics, 48(6), 624. doi:doi:10.1038/ng.3552

Okbay, A., Beauchamp, J. P., Fontana, M. A., Lee, J. J., Pers, T. H., Rietveld, C. A., . . . … Benjamin, D. J. (2016). Genome-wide association study identifies 74 loci associated with educational attainment. Nature, 533(7604), 539. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17671

Peng, X., & Conley, D. (2016). The implication of health insurance for child development and maternal nutrition: Evidence from china. The European Journal of Health Economics, 17(5), 521. doi:doi: 10.1007/s10198-015-0696-7
PMID: 26024841

Schmitz, L., & Conley, D. (2016). The long-term consequences of vietnam-era conscription and genotype on smoking behavior and health. Behavior Genetics, 46(1), 43. doi:doi: 10.1007/s10519-015-9739-1
PMID: 26341507

Conley, D., Domingue, B. W., Cesarini, D., Dawes, C., Rietveld, C. A., & Boardman, J. D. (2015). Is the effect of parental education on offspring biased or moderated by genotype? Sociological Science, 2(6), 82. doi:https://doi.org/10.15195/v2.a6

Domingue, B. W., Belsky, D., Conley, D., Harris, K. M., & Boardman, J. D. (2015). Polygenic influence on educational attainment: New evidence from the national longitudinal study of adolescent to adult health. AERA Open, 1(3), 1. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/2332858415599972

Rauscher, E., Conley, D., & Siegal, M. L. (2015). Sibling genes as environment: Sibling dopamine genotypes and adolescent health support frequency dependent selection. Social Science Research, 54, 209. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.08.002
PMID: 26463544

Conley, D., Siegal, M. L., Domingue, B. W., Mullan Harris, K., McQueen, M. B., & Boardman, J. D. (2014). Testing the key assumption of heritability estimates based on genome-wide genetic relatedness . Journal of Human Genetics, 59(6), 342. doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/jhg.2014.14

Domingue, B. W., Fletcher, J. M., Conley, D., & Boardman, J. D. (2014). Reply to abdellaoui et al.: Interpreting GAM. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(40), E4138. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1413105111

Domingue, B. W., Fletcher, J., Conley, D., & Boardman, J. D. (2014). Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(22), 7996. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1321426111

Moran, E. F., Hofferth, S. L., Eckel, C. C., Hamilton, D., Entwisle, B., Aber, J. L., . . . Scholz, J. T. (2014). Opinion: Building a 21st-century infrastructure for the social sciences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(45), 15855. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1416561111

Rietveld, C. A., Esko, T., Davies, G., ...Conley, D., & et, a. (2014). Common genetic variants associated with cognitive performance identified using the proxy-phenotype method [published correction appears in proc natl acad sci U S A.]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(38), 13790. doi:doi:10.1073/pnas.1404623111

Rietveld, C. A., Conley, D., Eriksson, N., & et, a. (2014). Replicability and robustness of genome-wide-association studies for behavioral traits. Psychological Science, 25(11), 1975. doi:doi:10.1177/0956797614545132

Conley, D., Rauscher, E., Dawes, C., Magnusson, P. K., & Siegal, M. L. (2013). Heritability and the equal environments assumption: Evidence from multiple samples of misclassified twins. Behavior Genetics, 43(5), 415. doi:doi: 10.1007/s10519-013-9602-1
PMID: 23903437

Conley, D., & Rauscher, E. (2013). Genetic interactions with prenatal social environment: Effects on academic and behavioral outcomes. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 54(1), 109. doi:doi: 10.1177/0022146512473758
PMID: 23475742

Conley, D., Rauscher, E., & Siegal, M. L. (2013). Beyond orchids and dandelions: Testing the 5-HTT "risky" allele for evidence of phenotypic capacitance and frequency-dependent selection. Biodemography and Social Biology, 59(1), 37. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/19485565.2013.774620

Fletcher, J. M., & Conley, D. (2013). The challenge of causal inference in gene-environment interaction research: Leveraging research designs from the social sciences. American Journal of Public Health, 103(Suppl 1), S42. doi:https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2013.301290

Heerwig, J. A., & Conley, D. (2013). The causal effects of vietnam-era military service on post-war family dynamics. Social Science Research, 42(2), 299. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.11.003
PMID: 23347477

Rietveld, C. A., ...Conley, D., & et, a. (2013). “GWAS of 126,559 individuals identifies genetic variants associated with educational attainment.”(new york, N.Y.). Science, 340,6139, 1467. doi:doi:10.1126/science.1235488

Benjamin, D. J., Cesarini, D., van der Loos, M. J., Dawes, C. T., Koellinger, P. D., Magnusson, P. K., . . . Visscher, P. M. (2012). The genetic architecture of economic and political preferences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(21), 8026. doi:https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1120666109

Conley, D., & Heerwig, J. (2012). The long-term effects of military conscription on mortality: Estimates from the vietnam-era draft lottery. Demography, 49(3), 841. doi:doi: 10.1007/s13524-012-0103-2
PMID: 22544704

Conley, D., & McCabe, B. J. (2012). Bribery or just desserts? evidence on the influence of congressional reproductive policy voting patterns on PAC contributions from exogenous variation in the sex mix of legislator offspring. Social Science Research, 41(1), 120. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2011.09.005
PMID: 23017701

Conley, D., & Strully, K. W. (2012). Birth weight, infant mortality, and race: Twin comparisons and genetic/environmental inputs. Social Science & Medicine, 75(12), 2446. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.09.024
PMID: 23083893

Conley, D. (2011). Commentary: Reading plomin and daniels in the post-genomic age. International Journal of Epidemiology, 40(3), 596. doi:doi: 10.1093/ije/dyq146
PMID: 21807645

Conley, D. (2011). Wired for distraction? like it or not, social media are reprogramming our children's brains. what's a good parent to do? . Time, 21;177(7), 55.
PMID: 21413540

Conley, D. (2009). The promise and challenges of incorporating genetic data into longitudinal social science surveys and research. Biodemography and Social Biology, 55(2), 238. doi:doi: 10.1080/19485560903415807
PMID: 20183907

Yeung, W. J., & Conley, D. (2008). Black-white achievement gap and family wealth. Child Development Perspectives, 79(2), 3030. doi:doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01127.x
PMID: 18366425

Conley, D., & Glauber, R. (2007). Gender, body mass, and socioeconomic status: New evidence from the PSID. Advances in Health Economics and Health Services Research, 17, 253.
PMID: 19548555

Conley, D., Strully, K. W., & Bennett, N. G. (2006). Twin differences in birth weight: The effects of genotype and prenatal environment on neonatal and post-neonatal mortality. Economics & Human Biology, 4(2), 151. doi:doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2005.12.001.
PMID: 16439189

Strully, K. W., & Conley, D. (2004). Reconsidering risk: Adapting public policies to intergenerational determinants and biosocial interactions in health-related needs. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 6, 1073. doi:doi: 10.1215/03616878-29-6-1073
PMID: 15688578

Conley, D., & Bennett, N. G. (2002). Outcomes in young adulthood for very-low-birth-weight infants. New England Journal of Medicine, 11,347(2), 141.
PMID: 12116997