Session Details

Social Science Genetics and Genodemography
(Event: PAA 2019 Annual Meeting)

Apr 09, 2019 8:00am - Apr 09, 2019 4:00pm
Session Type: Workshop


A growing number of social science data sources are providing molecular genetic data, and researchers all over the world are interested in utilizing this information in order to better understand various social and demographic phenomena. In this workshop, students will learn about the history of behavioral and social science genetics, as well as about the cutting-edge research and methods in these fields.

After attending this workshop, participants should have a basic understanding of the fundamental advantages of integrating genetics into social and demographic research. They should understand the basic technical terms from quantitative genetics literature and be able to read and interpret genodemographic studies.

The technical focus of this workshop will lie on the construction of so-called polygenic scores based on genome-wide association study (GWAS) summary statistics. Polygenic scores can be constructed for many outcomes for which GWAS have been performed, such as fertility tempo (e. g. age at first birth), fertility quantum (number of children ever born), educational attainment or subjective well-being. The students will learn how to incorporate polygenic scores into standard social demographic regression models. We use Plink software to prepare genetic data and R to generate scores and run regression models.


Robbee Wedow
Dr. Wedow is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His work focuses on a highly interdisciplinary research agenda. Using statistical genetics methods and traditional demographic methods, Robbee’s work sits at the intersection of genetics, sociology, and demography. He focuses both on genetic discovery with social science outcomes and also on the genetic and environmental etiologies of complex human social behaviors. Robbee is a member of the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC) and the GWAS and Sequencing Consortium of Alcohol and Nicotine use (GSCAN).  You can learn more about him at his website:

Felix Tropf ​is a sociologist whose research focuses on social demography, genetics, and the life course. He is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oxford, Research Fellow of Nuffield College, and Visiting Scientist at the Queensland Institute for Medical Research (QIMR ) in Australia.  He received his PhD from the University of Groningen and the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology in 2016. In 2017, he received the 2017 European Demography Award for best PhD Thesis. His research has been published in Demography, Nature Genetics, Nature Human Behaviour, Population Studies, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, amongst others.