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Biogeographic Ancestry and Socioeconomic Outcomes in the Americas: A Meta-Analysis

Emil O. W. Kirkegaard, Mingrui Wang and John Fuerst


Narrative reports suggest that socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with biogeographic ancestry (BGA) in the Americas. If so, SES potentially acts as a confound that needs to be taken into account when evaluating the relation between medical outcomes and BGA. To explore how systematic BGA-SES associations are, a meta-analysis of American studies was conducted. 40 studies were identified, yielding a total of 64 independent samples with directions of associations, including 48 independent samples with effect sizes. An analysis of association directions found a high degree of consistency. The square root n-weighted directions were 0.83 (K = 36), -0.81 (K = 41) and -0.82 (K = 39) for European, Amerindian and African BGA, respectively. An analysis of effect size magnitudes found that European BGA was positively associated with SES, with a meta-analytic effect size of r = .18 [95% CI: .13 to .24, K = 28, n = 35,476.5], while both Amerindian and African BGA were negatively associated with SES, having meta-analytic effect sizes of -.14 [-.18 to -.10, K = 31, n = 28,937.5] and -.11 [-.15 to -.07, K = 28, n = 32,710.5], respectively. There was considerable cross-sample variation in effect sizes (mean I2 = 92%), but the sample size was not enough for performing credible moderator analysis. Implications for future studies are discussed.

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