Neighborhood Genetics

All human traits are to some extent hereditary, but the environment around us also plays an important role in the development of mental health.

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In OECD countries, increases in the geographic concentration of rich and poor households over the last 40 years has heightened the differences between neighborhoods and changed the dynamics of local communities. What are the mental health effects of such developments? This research group investigates how characteristics of the neighborhood you grow up in affects you throughout your life.

We will focus on potential variations in heritable genetic characteristics between parents and children across neighborhoods, and examine the link between low socioeconomic status and poor mental health. Here we will specifically examine whether mental disorders lead to declining social mobility or whether it is low socioeconomic status that leads to poor mental health.

Our goal is to estimate:

  • ​​​​​​The extent to which mental health problems vary across different geographic areas in Norway (sub-district, district and municipal).

  • The extent to which factors such as genetics and the environment vary across different geographical areas, and whether this variation can be explained by characteristics of these geographical units.
  • The extent to which the transfer of genetic and environmental factors from parents to children across generations varies in different geographical areas in Norway, and whether this variation can be explained by characteristics of geographical units.
  • The extent to which the mental health of parents and children are affected by social factors or social selection across time and place, while also examining the characteristics of the individual, family, neighborhood or municipality.

How we work

We will combine data from Statistics Norway (all Norwegians alive or dead with unique ID numbers; education, income, other socio-economic variables, place of residence and pedigree) with data from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Survey (mental health in 110,000 parent-child trios; molecular genetic data for 240,000 individuals). 

Published Apr. 15, 2019 2:47 PM - Last modified Jan. 13, 2022 3:10 PM