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

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


Published: 2017/03/01


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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