Genetic and environmental influences on adult human height across birth cohorts from 1886 to 1994

Aline Jelenkovic, Yoon-Mi Hur, Reijo Sund, Y. Yokoyama, S. H. Siribaddana, M. Hotopf, A. Sumathipala, F. Rijsdijk, Q. Tan, D. Zhang, Z. Pang, Sari Aaltonen, Kauko Heikkilä, S. Y. Oncel, F. Aliev, E. Rebato, A. D. Tarnoki, D. L. Tarnoki, K. Christensen, A. SkyttheK. O. Kyvik, J. L. Silberg, L. J. Eaves, H. H. Maes, T. L. Cutler, J. L. Hopper, J. R. Ordonana, J. F. Sanchez-Romera, L. Colodro-Conde, W. Cozen, A. E. Hwang, T. M. Mack, J. Sung, Y. M. Song, S. Yang, K. Lee, C. E. Franz, W. S. Kremen, M. J. Lyons, A. Busjahn, T. L. Nelson, K. E. Whitfield, C. Kandler, K. L. Jang, M. Gatz, D. A. Butler, M. A. Stazi, C. Fagnani, C. D'Ippolito, G. E. Duncan, D. Buchwald, C. A. Derom, R. F. Vlietinck, R. J. Loos, N. G. Martin, S. E. Medland, G. W. Montgomery, H. U. Jeong, G. E. Swan, R. Krasnow, P. K. Magnusson, N. L. Pedersen, A. K. Dahl-Aslan, T. A. McAdams, T. C. Eley, A. M. Gregory, P. Tynelius, L. A. Baker, C. Tuvblad, G. Bayasgalan, D. Narandalai, P. Lichtenstein, T. D. Spector, M. Mangino, G. Lachance, M. Bartels, T. C. van Beijsterveldt, G. Willemsen, S. A. Burt, K. L. Klump, J. R. Harris, I. Brandt, T. S. Nilsen, R. F. Krueger, M. McGue, S. Pahlen, R. P. Corley, J. V. Hjelmborg, J. H. Goldberg, Y. Iwatani, M. Watanabe, C. Honda, F. Inui, F. Rasmussen, B. M. Huibregtse, D. I. Boomsma, T. I. Sorensen, Jaakko Kaprio, Karri Silventoinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Human height variation is determined by genetic and environmental factors, but it remains unclear whether their influences differ across birth-year cohorts. We conducted an individual-based pooled analysis of 40 twin cohorts including 143,390 complete twin pairs born 1886-1994. Although genetic variance showed a generally increasing trend across the birth-year cohorts, heritability estimates (0.69-0.84 in men and 0.53-0.78 in women) did not present any clear pattern of secular changes. Comparing geographic-cultural regions (Europe, North America and Australia, and East Asia), total height variance was greatest in North America and Australia and lowest in East Asia, but no clear pattern in the heritability estimates across the birth-year cohorts emerged. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that heritability of height is lower in populations with low living standards than in affluent populations, nor that heritability of height will increase within a population as living standards improve.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20320
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
  • 5141 Sociology

Cite this