Genetic and environmental influences on residential location in the US

Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, Raitt Hall, Seattle, WA 98195-3410, USA.
Health & Place (Impact Factor: 2.81). 02/2012; 18(3):515-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2012.02.003
Source: PubMed


We used a classical twin design and measures of neighborhood walkability and social deprivation, using each twin's street address, to examine genetic and environmental influences on the residential location of 1389 same-sex pairs from a US community-based twin registry. Within-pair correlations and structural equation models estimated these influences on walkability among younger (ages 18-24.9) and older (ages 25+) twins. Adjusting for social deprivation, walkability of residential location was primarily influenced by common environment with lesser contributions of unique environment and genetic factors among younger twins, while unique environment most strongly influenced walkability, with small genetic and common environment effects, among older twins. Thus, minimal variance in walkability was explained by shared genetic effects in younger and older twins, and confirms the importance of environmental factors in walkability of residential locations.

Download full-text


Available from: Eric Strachan
  • Source
    • "Selection problem can also refer to the possibility that individuals select residential environments based on genetics or family upbringing (Duncan et al., 2012; Whitfield et al., 2005; Willemsen et al., 2005). The selection variables, rather than any putative environmental effects, may be responsible for findings that link environmental characteristics to health outcomes. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: No causal evidence is available to translate associations between neighborhood characteristics and health outcomes into beneficial changes to built environments. Observed associations may be causal or result from uncontrolled confounds related to family upbringing. Twin designs can help neighborhood effects studies overcome selection and reverse causation problems in specifying causal mechanisms. Beyond quantifying genetic effects (i.e., heritability coefficients), we provide examples of innovative measures and analytic methods that use twins as quasi-experimental controls for confounding by environmental effects. We conclude that collaboration among investigators from multiple fields can move the field forward by designing studies that step toward causation.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Health & Place
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Socioeconomic status and other socio-demographic factors have been associated with selective residential mobility across rural and urban areas, but the role of psychological characteristics in selective migration has been studied less. The current study used 16-year longitudinal data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) to examine whether cognitive ability assessed at age 15–23 predicted subsequent urban/rural migration between ages 15 and 39 (n = 11,481). Higher cognitive ability was associated with selective rural-to-urban migration (12 percentile points higher ability among those moving from rural areas to central cities compared to those staying in rural areas) but also with higher probability of moving away from central cities to suburban and rural areas (4 percentile points higher ability among those moving from central cities to suburban areas compared to those staying in central cities). The mobility patterns associated with cognitive ability were largely but not completely mediated by adult educational attainment and income. The findings suggest that selective migration contributes to differential flow of cognitive ability levels across urban and rural areas in the United States.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Intelligence
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Physical activity, neighborhood walkability, and body mass index (BMI, kg/m(2)) associations were tested using quasi-experimental twin methods. We hypothesized that physical activity and walkability were independently associated with BMI within twin pairs, controlling for genetic and environmental background shared between them. Data were from 6,376 (64% female; 58% identical) same-sex pairs, University of Washington Twin Registry, 2008-2013. Neighborhood walking, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and BMI were self-reported. Residential address was used to calculate walkability. Phenotypic (non-genetically informed) and biometric (genetically informed) regression was employed, controlling for age, sex, and race. Walking and MVPA were associated with BMI in phenotypic analyses; associations were attenuated but significant in biometric analyses (Ps<0.05). Walkability was not associated with BMI, however, was associated with walking (but not MVPA) in both phenotypic and biometric analyses (Ps<0.05), with no attenuation accounting for shared genetic and environmental background. The association between activity and BMI is largely due to shared genetic and environmental factors, but a significant causal relationship remains accounting for shared background. Although walkability is not associated with BMI, it is associated with neighborhood walking (but not MVPA) accounting for shared background, suggesting a causal relationship between them. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Preventive Medicine
Show more