Genetic basis of STEM occupational choice and regional economic performance: a UK biobank genome-wide association study

Hum Genomics. 2023 May 10;17(1):40. doi: 10.1186/s40246-023-00488-2.


BACKGROUND: Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals are regarded as the highly skilled labor force that fosters economic productivity, enterprise innovation, and international competitiveness of a country. This study aims to understand the genetic predisposition to STEM occupations and investigate its associations with regional economic performance. We conducted a genome-wide association study on the occupational choice of STEM jobs based on a sample of 178,976 participants from the UK Biobank database.

RESULTS: We identified two genetic loci significantly associated with participants’ STEM job choices: rs10048736 on chromosome 2 and rs12903858 on chromosome 15. The SNP heritability of STEM occupations was estimated to be 4.2%. We also found phenotypic and genetic evidence of assortative mating in STEM occupations. At the local authority level, we found that the average polygenic score of STEM is significantly and robustly associated with several metrics of regional economic performance.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study expands our knowledge of the genetic basis of occupational choice and potential regional disparities in socioeconomic developments.

PMID:37165452 | DOI:10.1186/s40246-023-00488-2

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