Income and Education Disparities Track Genetic Ancestry

OpenPsych , Sept. 11, 2023, ISSN: 2597-324X


Structural racism has often been invoked to explain observed disparities in social outcomes, such as in educational attainment and income, among different American racial/ethnic groups. Theorists of structural racism typically argue that racial categories are socially constructed and do not correspond with genetic ancestry; additionally, they argue that social outcome differences are a result of discriminatory social norms, policies, and laws that adversely affect members of non-White race/ethnic groups. Since the examples of social norms and policies commonly provided target individuals based on socially-defined race/ethnicity, and not on genetic ancestry, a logical inference is that social disparities will be related to socially-defined race/ethnicity independent of genetically-identified continental ancestry. In order to evaluate this hypothesis, we employ admixture-regression analysis and examine the independent influences of socially-identified race/ethnicity and genetically-defined ancestry on the educational attainment and income of parents, using data from a large sample of US children. Our study focuses on self-identified Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and East Asians in the United States. Analyses generally show that the association between socially-identified race/ethnicity and outcomes is mediated by genetic ancestry and that non-White race/ethnicity is unrelated to worse outcomes when controlling for genetic ancestry. For example, conditioned on European genetic ancestry, Americans socially-identified as Black and as Hispanic exhibit equivalent or better social outcomes in both education and income as compared to non-Hispanic Whites. These results are seemingly incongruent with the notion that social outcome differences are due to social policy, norms, and practices which adversely affect individuals primarily based on socially-constructed group status
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race, income, education attainment, Structural racism, genetic ancestry

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