Social-class differences in Poland pronounced in stature, but absent in gene frequencies

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Polskie Towarzystwo Antropologiczne

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The marked social-class differences in physical growth of youth, as well as in a variety of health-related biological characteristics of adults, observed in many industrial societies are as a rule interpreted as nongenetic in nature and therefore as purely phenotypic manifestations of social inequalities in living standards. However, this tacitly adopted "no genetics" assumption has very seldom been subject to any empirical validation. The present study in an attempt to provide such validation for the population of Poland. The material was collected over the period from 1960 to 1990 and drawn from cases of disputed paternity. It comprises a total of 8861 adults of both sexes; roughly half of them are males, the presumptive fathers. It was found that throughout the period of several decades covered by this study no significant differences appeared between the varous social strata in allele frequencies of any of the following 8 genetic loci: ABO, MN, Rh(D), Hp, Gm(a), AcP, PGM1, EsD. Nor is there any suggestion of long-term trends in allele frequencies for any of the above loci. This pattern is in sharp contrast to the strikingly regular social gradients, and intense secular trends, observed in the population of post-war Poland in stature and age at menarche. It is postulated that the above findings are consonant with the "no genetic component" hypothesis.




social stratification, allele frequencies, secular trends


Anthropological Review, vol. 64, 2001, pp. 73-79



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego