Original Paper

Behavior Genetics

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 326-333

First online:

Genetic and Environmental Factors Affecting Self-Rated Health from Age 16–25: A Longitudinal Study of Finnish Twins

  • Karri SilventoinenAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of Helsinki Email author 
  • , Danielle PosthumaAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Psychology, Free University of Amsterdam
  • , Eero LahelmaAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of Helsinki
  • , Richard J. RoseAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of HelsinkiDepartment of Psychology, Indiana University
  • , Jaakko KaprioAffiliated withDepartment of Public Health, University of HelsinkiDepartment of Mental Health and Alcohol Research, National Public Health Institute

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We analyzed genetic and environmental determinants of self-rated health and its change from adolescence to early adulthood. Questionnaires were mailed to Finnish twins born 1975–1979 at ages 16, 17, \(18\frac{1}{2}\) and, on average, 25 years of age (N = 2465 complete twin pairs). The data were analyzed using quantitative genetic methods for twin data by the Mx statistical package. Heritability of self-rated health was greatest at age 16 (63%, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 56–67%, men and women together) and declined steadily to age 25 (33%, 95% CI 25–41%). The residual variation was due to unshared environments. Health ratings at different ages were modestly correlated (r = 0.33–0.61). These correlations were mainly due to genetic factors, but unshared environment also contributed to them. An important challenge for further research is to identify environmental influences contributing to self-rated health independently of, or in interaction with, genetic factors.


Self-rated health Adolescence Heritability