Genetic Ancestral Markers, Social and Cultural Context and Race/Ethnicity Identity

Guang Guo, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Yilan Fu, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Our main objective is to understand how genetic and social/cultural heritage influence racial/ethnic identity. We take advantage of a panel of about 180 ancestral genetic markers in the Roommate Study, which was conducted in the spring of 2008 using a sample of 2,100 college students. Our first hypothesis is that genetic-marker-identified race/ethnicity is largely consistent with self-reported race/ethnicity. The correspondence should be about 90%. This counters to the often-heard claim that race/ethnicity is entirely socially and culturally constructed. The hypothesis has never been tested using a large-scale social science data set. Our second hypothesis is that the correspondence between the two is poor for individuals with mixed racial background. Our third hypothesis is that individuals with mixed racial background tend to identify themselves with ethnic minorities. This is true even for those who are genetically predominantly Caucasians, emphasizing the predominance of social and cultural heritage.

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Presented in Session 98: Biomarkers in Demographic Research