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DNA Ethnicity Reports - Are they all the same?

DNA Ethnicity Reports

I receive a lot of emails and see a lot of Facebook posts from people wondering why their ethnicity varies so much from company to company. Here are some general principles that you need to keep in mind:

  • Different companies use different reference populations
  • Different companies divide up the world a little differently
  • All of the companies periodically update their algorithms so your percentages will change
  • Once you get back to the 3rd great-grandparents, their DNA starts dropping off the further you go back. You can see a chart showing this. Scroll down to the grandparents chart. This is STATISTICAL data. Real life data will be more pronounced
  • If you have tested your brothers and sisters they will, most likely, have different percentages than you because they have different DNA than you do (this one throws people too so I though I would mention it)

My paper research has my mother's family in central Europe to the late 1500's on all lines that I have been able to carry back. All of my dad's lines migrated across the pond prior to 1750ish. Best I can tell I am looking at England, Wales, and Ireland (Again, on the lines that I have been able to carry back that far). Here are my results from the different companies. The first thing you should notice is the different geographical areas so it is pretty much impossible for these to match exactly.

MyHeritage DNA
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Looking at your ethnicity is fun but don't think it is written in stone. Genealogists should be more concerned with the cousin matches which will help you extend your family tree and break down brick walls.

Want to see another ethnicity report comparison? Check out the YouTube video Marian Pierre-Louis made comparing her ethnicity across MyHeritage, AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


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Since I can't seem to place a comment on You Tube.....I'll place it here and hope that the person who did the Video, now knows the reason she tested Scandinavian so heavily is that many of the original Population to the British Isles were from Scandinavia! Think about it blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair complexion, where is there a population of people with the same "coloring"......It makes perfect sense to me. But because surnames where not "invented", till after these nordic people came, they took "English" names. My blonde, blued relation took the name Haslam, meaning the "place of the Hazels". Hazel nuts, grow on large bushes. Before they adopted their surname, they were "their father's son": Ericson, Petersen, etc. Sorry I had to express this thought, since the Lady in the video kept wondering why, thoughout the presentation.

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