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Responses were collated within schools to identify social ties between individuals and their friends (24).Of the adolescents surveyed, 20,745 were enrolled in a longitudinal study that included in-home interviews with the adolescents and their parents and that followed the adolescents prospectively across four waves of interviews spanning 14 y.
We also conducted analysis of genetic relatedness of the full Add Health sample using the REAP algorithm (26), which is designed to estimate genetic similarity in the presence of population stratification. Estimates of genetic similarity among friends were positive (Table 1).
Adult friends are, on average, more genetically similar than random pairs from the population (13).
Genetic similarity among friendship networks is important for at least two reasons.
Adolescence is a critical developmental period in which patterns of health behaviors and overall mental health established during this phase continue through the life course (16) and may affect socioeconomic attainment (17, 18).
Moreover, it is also a time of heightened salience for peer networks and influence (19–22).
Whether this sorting of like with like arises from historical patterns of migration, meso-level social structures in modern society, or individual-level selection of similar peers remains unsettled.