What Ethnicities Did You Inherit from Each Side of Your Family?

AncestryDNA, DNA Science
17 October 2022
by Ancestry® Team

Believe it or not, ethnicity inheritance is random. It may be passed down unevenly—or not at all. So you might have a little bit of Scottish from your biological mom, but your brother didn’t get a drop. DNA is fascinating that way.

So How Does Ethnicity Inheritance Work?

Almost everyone gets half of their DNA from each biological parent. This means that there’s half of each parent’s DNA that you didn’t inherit. And…

…the 50% of the DNA you get is random. That’s why you and your siblings don’t have identical DNA and may have different ethnicity results.

How Does it Look in Your DNA?

Your DNA comes in long pieces called chromosomes. Most people have 23 pairs of chromosomes. In each pair, one comes from your mother, and one comes from your father.

And How Does It Impact Ethnicity Estimates for Family Members?

Because your parents passed down only half of their DNA to each child, they may have ethnicities that you didn’t inherit. And your siblings may have ethnicities you don’t have—or vice versa. That means your DNA results probably won’t look the same as your brother’s or sister’s—even identical twins can have some variations.

Find Your Ethnicity Inheritance

Advances in DNA technology, like SideView™ from AncestryDNA®, can show the percentages of each ethnicity you inherited from each of your biological parents—even if they haven’t taken tests. You might even discover you got some of that Scottish from your dad’s side too.

Learn more about ethnicity inheritance.