14th Annual IGSS Conference • October 20-21, 2023

Integrating Genetics and the Social Sciences 2023

The Validity of Self-Rated Health for Mortality: Family-Background and Genetic Precursors

Brian Finch, University of Southern California

Self-rated health (SRH) has been shown to be predictive of morbidity and mortality, above and beyond socio-demographic characters and objective, clinical ratings of health. Two research streams suggest that this relationship could have bases in both: a) family background and b) genetics. First, childhood health and family environment are known to have long-term implications for health and wellbeing. Second, SRH has been shown to be highly heritable (h2 ≤ .60). These two sets of findings argue that at least some of the relationship between self-rated health and mortality may have roots in childhood and inherited genes. This study uses twin-differencing approaches and controls for genetics using MZ twin-pairs and finds that a substantial portion of the SRH/mortality gradient is due to family background. While genetics are further implicated in this relationship, they do not fully account for it, suggesting the continued utility of SRH for population health research.

Presenter's website


B.K. Finch, University of Southern California
D. Finkel, Indiana University Southeast
M. Gatz, University of Southern California
N. Pedersen, Karolinska Institutet
C. Reynolds, University of Southern California
P. Sachdev, University of New South Wales, Sydney
A. Selwood, University of New South Wales, Sydney
M. Mosing, Karolinska Institutet