Heritability measures the proportion of trait variation that is due to genetic inheritance. Measurement of heritability is important in the nature-versus-nurture debate. However, existing estimates of heritability may be biased by environmental effects. Here, we introduce relatedness disequilibrium regression (RDR), a novel method for estimating heritability. RDR avoids most sources of environmental bias by exploiting variation in relatedness due to random Mendelian segregation. We used a sample of 54,888 Icelanders who had both parents genotyped to estimate the heritability of 14 traits, including height (55.4%, s.e. 4.4%) and educational attainment (17.0%, s.e. 9.4%). Our results suggest that some other estimates of heritability may be inflated by environmental effects.
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