Choice of residential location: Chance, family influences, or genes?

John B. Whitfield, Gu Zhu, Andrew C. Heath, Nicholas G. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

The choice of where to live would appear to be determined by a combination of economic constraints and personal preferences. We have tested how far this choice is affected by the continuing effects of the environment shared within families, and genetic variation between people, using data from twin studies conducted in Australia. The addresses provided by study participants were categorized as urban, suburban and nonurban, and data were analyzed in three adult age groups. There were significant effects of both shared environment and genes, and the balance between them was affected by both sex and age. Shared environment accounted for some 50% of variation in the youngest group, but only about 10% in the oldest. As shared environmental effects decreased, additive genetic effects increased. These results have implications for internal migration of people within countries and, over the long term, for gene flow within and between populations. They may also be pertinent to the different prevalences of certain psychiatric diseases between city and country locations. Comparisons between countries with different demography are needed to confirm and further characterize these effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-26
Number of pages5
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

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