View Full Version : Social Genomics in Britain

05-11-19, 16:32
This paper is causing a bit of a stir.

"Genetic Correlates of Social Stratification in Great Britain"


"Human DNA polymorphisms vary across geographic regions, with the most commonly observed variation reflecting distant ancestry differences. Here we investigate the geographic clustering of common genetic variants that influence complex traits in a sample of ~450,000 individuals from Great Britain. Of 33 traits analysed, 21 showed significant geographic clustering at the genetic level after controlling for ancestry, probably reflecting migration driven by socioeconomic status (SES). Alleles associated with educational attainment (EA) showed the most clustering, with EA-decreasing alleles clustering in lower SES areas such as coal mining areas. Individuals who leave coal mining areas carry more EA-increasing alleles on average than those in the rest of Great Britain. The level of geographic clustering is correlated with genetic associations between complex traits and regional measures of SES, health and cultural outcomes. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that social stratification leaves visible marks in geographic arrangements of common allele frequencies and gene–environment correlations."

Basically, what they found is that people living in former coal-mining regions had, on average, fewer genetic variants that correlated with staying in school longer or with going on to higher education. Makes perfect sense to me: when the mines closed down, the brighter and more adaptable left for other areas. It has happened and is happening all over the world.

The problem isn't with that; it's that they found that genetics is heavily involved with educational attainment.

A discussion of it where the author does a lot of hand-wringing over it.

It's not that I don't worry too that there are people who might use such information to treat certain people badly; look at what they did without it. However, denying facts is not the answer. It just angers people and builds up resentment. A way has to be found to integrate this data into humane public policy.