New Scientist this week has published a short opinion piece that I wrote about ongoing human evolution: “Are humans still evolving? Growing evidence suggests we are”. (unfortunately requires login) I discuss a recent research paper by Jonathan Beauchamp that found a negative selection gradient with increasing educational attainment in American adults:
Beauchamp tapped into the 20,000-person US Health and Retirement Study, which is augmented by genetic information from subjects. Looking at people born between 1931 and 1953, he found that in both men and women, higher educational attainment was correlated with having fewer children.
That much may seem obvious. For a century, Americans have been foregoing family size and early child-rearing for more education. Globally, this change is part of what is known as the demographic transition.
I also discuss some of the limitations of this study.
We will be seeing more and more results that show selection in these large-scale health studies that are incorporating genetics.