Neighborhood Genetics

All human traits are to some extent heritable (i.e. genetic variance / observed variance). However, it is unknown to what extent this is dependent on familial and neighborhood environmental factors.

About the group

For example, the expressed genetic risk for conduct disorder could be different at Adamstuen and Ammerud.  What is more, the extent to which children are influenced by parental characteristics, or are similar to their parents because of genetic transmission (i.e. gene-environment correlation), could also vary across neighborhoods. Thereafter it is possible to find observed covariates in the family, neighborhood, or municipality that is associated with a moderation in genetic and environmental risk (i.e. gene-environment interaction).

Poor mental health is associated with low socioeconomic status (SES). This association could be due to social selection (e.g. risk for mental disorders leads to a downward social mobility) or social causation (i.e. low SES causes poor mental health). By combining information on molecular genetic risk, familial risk, time, and place of residence, it is possible to separate social selection from social causation. It is also possible to identify covariates in the neighborhood that is protective from social selection or causation for individuals with a high genetic risk for mental disorders.

We aim to

  1. Estimate to what extent mental health problems varies across different geographical levels in Norway (grunnkrets, delområde, kommune)

  2. Estimate to what extent genetic and environmental factors vary across geographical strata, and if this variation can be explained by characteristics of the geographical units

  3. Estimate to what extent the parent-offspring genetic and environmental intergenerational transmission vary across geographical strata in Norway, and if this variation can be explained by characteristics of the geographical units

  4. Estimate the degree of social selection or causation in parental and child mental health across time and geography, and to find characteristics of the individual, family, neighborhood, or municipality


We will use a linkage between the Statistics Norway (all Norwegians alive or dead with unique id; education, income, other SES variables, place of residence, and pedigree) and the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study (mental health in 110 000 parent-offspring trios; SNP data for 240 000 individuals). We will also use the databank Cohort of Norway (n=200 000).

Published Apr. 15, 2019 2:47 PM - Last modified Oct. 22, 2019 8:52 AM