A complex combination of genes and environment influence health and, as a result, both genes and environment can play a role in shaping health disparities. We consider distinctions in these influences across rural and urban settings, expanding upon work that shows lower genetic associations in rural compared to urban places by studying an older age group and examining more than the typical outcomes of alcohol/substance abuse. Using a sample of 14,994 adults from the 1992 through 2016 waves of the Health andRetirement Study, our results suggest genetic associations for BMI and heart conditions are significantly lower in rural compared to urban settings. We do not find evidence in support of this association for depression and smoking. In sum, the results suggest the gene-environment interaction may play a role in the well-documented disparities across rural and urban places within the United States, further highlighting the importance of the social, economic, and built environments for individual health.
Davidson, Trent, Jason Boardman, and Lori Hunter. 2022. "Exploring Rural-Urban Differences in Polygenic Associations for Health among Older Adults in the United States." Journal of Rural Social Sciences, 37(1): Article 4. Available at: https://egrove.olemiss.edu/jrss/vol37/iss1/4