Genome-Wide Heritability Estimates for Family Life Course Complexity

Zachary Van Winkle , University of Oxford
Dalton Conely, Princeton University

We apply retrospective life history and molecular genetic data from the US Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA). Specifically, we estimate the genetic contribution to sequence complexity and a wide range of family demographic behaviors using genomic-relatedness-based restricted maximum-likelihood (GREML) models. This innovative methodological approach allows us to estimate the heritability of a composite life course outcome – sequence complexity – for the first time. Not only do we demonstrate that a number of family demographic indicators are heritable, but also provide evidence that composite life course metrics can also be influenced by genetic factors. For example, our results show that 12 percent of the total variation in the complexity of differentiated family sequences is attributable to genetic influences. Interestingly, we find little evidence that the heritability of family life course complexity or any other family demographic outcomes has increased across US birth cohorts.

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 Presented in Session 131. Family Complexity and Diversity