Genetic and educational assortative mating among US adults

Author: Domingue, B.W.; Fletcher, J.; Conley, D.; Boardman, J.D.

Description: Understanding the social and biological mechanisms that lead to homogamy (similar individuals marrying one another) has been a long-standing issue across many fields of scientific inquiry. Using a nationally representative sample of non-Hispanic white US adults from the Health and Retirement Study and information from 1.7 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms, we compare genetic similarity among married couples to noncoupled pairs in the population. We provide evidence for genetic assortative mating in this population but the strength of this association is substantially smaller than the strength of educational assortative mating in the same sample. Furthermore, genetic similarity explains at most 10% of the assortative mating by education levels. Results are replicated using comparable data from the Framingham Heart Study.

Subject headings: Continental Population Groups/genetics; Databases, Genetic; Educational Status; Ethnic Groups/genetics; Female; Genome-Wide Association Study; Genotype; Humans; Male; Marriage; Metagenomics/methods; Phenotype; Sexual Behavior; Spouses; United States; genetic homogamy; homophily; random mating

Publication year: 2014

Journal or book title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Volume: 111

Issue: 22

Pages: 7996-8000

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 1127