Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Comparison of My Autosomal DNA Ethnicity Estimates

I added the MyHeritageDNA to my autosomal DNA ethnicity estimate list today.  Here are the updated results:

1)  Perceived Genealogical Ancestry

I estimated my perceived genealogical ancestry, based on where my ancestors in each line resided in 1500 CE (this had to be an educated guess!) in My Autosomal DNA Quandary Persists:

68%  British Isles
24%  Germany/Switzerland
1%  Holland/Belgium
1%  France
6%  Unknown (perhaps some are French, Dutch, Scandinavian, Belgian, English, Native American, or other places)

2)  AncestryDNA Autosomal DNA Ethnicity Estimate:

The AncestryDNA ethnicity estimate by sub-region is:

*  66% Europe West
*  18% Ireland
*  9% Great Britain
*  3% Scandinavian
*  1% Italy/Greece
* <1% Iberian Peninsula
*  <1% Pacific Islander
*  < !% Native-American

3)  FamilyTreeDNA Autosomal DNA Estimate:

My FamilyTreeDNA ethnicity estimate by sub-region is:

*  45% Scandinavia
*  32% Western and Central Europe
*  19% Southern Europe
*  4% British Isles

4)  23andMe autosomal DNA ethnicity estimate:

My 23andMe ethnicity estimate by sub-region is:

*  47.9% British & Irish
*  26.0% French and German
*  2.0% Scandinavian
*  21.0% Broadly Northwestern European
*  1.3% Southern European
*  1.1% Broadly European
*  0.5% East Asian and Native American
*  0.1% Middle Eastern and North African

5) autosomal DNA Ethnicity Estimate:

My ethnicity estimate by sub-region is:

*  82% Northwest European
*  8.6% Balkan
*  1.6% Ambiguous South European
*  7.6% Ambiguous West Eurasian

5)  Living DNA autosomal DNA Ethnicity Estimate:

*  86.2% British Isles
*  13.8%  Europe

The British Isles numbers were further broken down as:

*** South Central England = 21.0% (orange)
*** Central England = 18.6% (blue)
*** South England = 18.5% (green)
*** East Anglia = 10.1% (red)
*** Devon = 8.5% (light blue)
*** Cumbria = 2.5% (brown)
*** Northumbria = 1.7% (teal)
*** Southeast England = 1.1% (purple)
*** Unassigned England = 4.1% (gray)

7)  MyHeritageDNA autosomal DNA Ethnicity Estimate:

*  North and West European:   64.7%
*  English:                                34.2%
*  Central American:                 1.1%

8)  Conclusions and Comments

a)  The six DNA ethnicity estimates do not match one another.  This is probably because they have different sub-regional groupings, and different reference groups (persons tested and assigned to each grouping), on which  they are basing their estimates.

b)  For those services that identified a sub-region of British Isles and Ireland, the results are:

**  Living DNA:  86.2% British Isles
**  AncestryDNA:  27%  Ireland and great Britain
**  FamilyTreeDNA:  4%  British Isles
**  23andMe:  47.9%  British and Irish
** MyHeritageDNA:  English 34.2% (nut not Scotland and Ireland)
Compared to my perceived genealogical estimate of 68% for the British Isles (including Ireland), the Living DNA estimate overestimates the DNA contribution, while the other services underestimate the DNA contribution.    

Obviously, the British Isles were a place where invasions from the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons,  the Vikings, and the Normans have occurred over the past 2,000 years.  I probably left some out.  

c)  Based on my perceived genealogical ethnicity, and the six DNA autosomal test service results, I still think that 23andMe provided the best ethnicity estimate.  I may be wrong, of course!


Disclosure:  I purchased the 23andMe autosomal test.  I received a complimentary test kit from AncestryDNA.  I won a contest for the FamilyTreeDNA autosomal test kit.  I used raw data from the 23andMe test for the DNA.Land, Living DNA test and MyHeritageDNA test.

Copyright (c) 2017, Randall J. Seaver

Please comment on this post on the website by clicking the URL above and then the "Comments" link at the bottom of each post.  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest using the icons below.  Or contact me by email at


Cathy P said...

Very valuable comparisons. Thanks for doing this for us.

Chip said...

Very interesting results. The first question I have (as you've mentioned) is what the size and characteristics are of the sampled data that's used for each DNA program.

A smaller sampled database may be less dependable (region to region) than those with more sampled members. For example, I would think that has one the highest number of sampled results, and would tend to think that their results are more consistent.

It would be interesting to see if there might be characteristics of each database that would include more info about the size and demographics of their sampled members.