Integrating Genetics and Social Science: Genetic Risk Scores

Major social science studies like the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent and Adult Health and the Health and Retirement Study have collected DNA from their participants and are in the process of making available genome-wide genetic datasets. The introduction of large-scale genetic data into social science represents a disruptive innovation with the potential to transform the fields of sociology, economics, and psychology. Social scientists must now learn to “drink from the firehose” and manage the millions of genetic data points to ask meaningful questions. In this article, Salomon Israel and I suggest one promising strategy for translating genome-wide genetic data into tools for social science: Genetic risk scores.  We frame the big picture of genetics entering the social sciences, discuss some of the finer technical points, and map out a series of promising research questions.

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