Authors: Dalton Conley, Thomas Laidley, Daniel W. Belsky, Jason M. Fletcher, Jason D. Boardman and Benjamin W. Domingue
This study asks two related questions about the shifting landscape of marriage and reproduction in US society over the course of the last century with respect to a range of health and behavioral phenotypes and their associated genetic architecture: (i) Has assortment on measured genetic factors influencing reproductive and social fitness traits changed over the course of the 20th century? (ii) Has the genetic covariance between fitness (as measured by total fertility) and other traits changed over time? The answers to these questions inform our understanding of how the genetic landscape of American society has changed over the past century and have implications for population trends. We show that husbands and wives carry similar loadings for genetic factors related to education and height. However, the magnitude of this similarity is modest and has been fairly consistent over the course of the 20th century. This consistency is particularly notable in the case of education, for which phenotypic similarity among spouses has increased in recent years. Likewise, changing patterns of the number of children ever born by phenotype are not matched by shifts in genotype–fertility relationships over time. Taken together, these trends provide no evidence that social sorting is becoming increasingly genetic in nature or that dysgenic dynamics have accelerated.