The cross-generational mother-daughter-aunt-niece design: establishing validity of the MDAN design with NLSY fertility variables

Behav Genet. 2008 Nov;38(6):567-78. doi: 10.1007/s10519-008-9225-0. Epub 2008 Sep 30.


Using National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) fertility variables, we introduce and illustrate a new genetically-informative design. First, we develop a kinship linking algorithm, using the NLSY79 and the NLSY-Children data to link mothers to daughters and aunts to nieces. Then we construct mother-daughter correlations to compare to aunt-niece correlations, an MDAN design, within the context of the quantitative genetic model. The results of our empirical illustration, which uses DF Analysis and generalized estimation equations (GEE) to estimate biometrical parameters from NLSY79 sister-sister pairs and their children in the NLSY-Children dataset, provide both face validity and concurrent validity in support of the efficacy of the design. We describe extensions of the MDAN design. Compared to the typical within-generational design used in most behavior genetic research, the cross-generational feature of this design has certain advantages and interesting features. In particular, we note that the equal environment assumption of the traditional biometrical model shifts in the context of a cross-generational design. These shifts raise questions and provide motivation for future research using the MDAN and other cross-generational designs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Genetic Techniques
  • Genetics, Behavioral*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers
  • Nuclear Family
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design*