Married couples have genetic similarities, research claims

Family|May 20th 2014

Married couples have more genetic similarities to each other than randomly paired people, new research has claimed.

A team of social and behavioural scientists studied data from the national Health and Retirement Study, an ongoing US survey of older people’s health which is sponsored by the National Institute of Aging.

They selected a sample of 825 couples born between 1920 and 1970. Close to two thirds were born during the 1930s.

When the married couples’ DNA was compared, it revealed a greater similarity than the DNA of random pairs. However, this genetic similarity was just one third the similarity of the married couple’s educational levels.

Lead researcher Benjamin Domingue is a behavioural science researcher. He said:

“It is well established that individuals are more similar to their spouses than other individuals on important traits, such as education level. The genetic similarity, or lack thereof, between spouses is less well understood.”

The researchers said the study had been limited and further research was necessary.

“The results represented here only represent a first step in understanding the ways in which humans may assortively mate with respect to their genome.”

The study was published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

Photo by  RichardBowen via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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