Human capital mediates natural selection in contemporary humans

Hugh-Jones, David ORCID: and Abdellaoui, Abdel (2022) Human capital mediates natural selection in contemporary humans. Behavior Genetics, 52 (4-5). 205–234. ISSN 0001-8244

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Natural selection has been documented in contemporary humans, but little is known about the mechanisms behind it. We test for natural selection through the association between 33 polygenic scores and fertility, across two generations, using data from UK Biobank (N = 409,629 British subjects with European ancestry). Consistently over time, polygenic scores that predict higher earnings, education and health also predict lower fertility. Selection effects are concentrated among lower SES groups, younger parents, people with more lifetime sexual partners, and people not living with a partner. The direction of natural selection is reversed among older parents, or after controlling for age at first live birth. These patterns are in line with the economic theory of fertility, in which earnings-increasing human capital may either increase or decrease fertility via income and substitution effects in the labour market. Studying natural selection can help us understand the genetic architecture of health outcomes: we find evidence in modern day Great Britain for multiple natural selection pressures that vary between subgroups in the direction and strength of their effects, that are strongly related to the socio-economic system, and that may contribute to health inequalities across income groups.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding: AA is supported by the Foundation Volksbond Rotterdam and by ZonMw Grant 849200011 from The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development. This study was conducted using UK Biobank resources under application Numbers 40310 and 19127.
Uncontrolled Keywords: economic theory of fertility,natural selection,polygenic scores,genetics(clinical),genetics,ecology, evolution, behavior and systematics,sdg 3 - good health and well-being ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2716
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Centres > Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Behavioural Economics
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Environment, Resources and Conflict
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2022 08:30
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2023 10:30
DOI: 10.1007/s10519-022-10107-w


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