DNA testing for ancestry is more detailed for white people. Here’s why, and how it’s changing

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As DNA tests for ancestry explode in popularity, a fundamental problem remains: The tests deliver more detailed results for people of European descent, as evidenced by the ethnicities and data that major DNA testing companies represent. While this bias should recede as more people take the tests and add their DNA data to the mix, the companies have some work to do before their kits can work reasonably well on a worldwide population.

In 2017, more people took DNA tests than in all the previous years combined, according to the MIT Technology Review, and that number keeps climbing. According to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), more than 18 million people have tested their DNA to learn about their ethnic identity or to find relatives. DNA testing companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe have become household names as a result, while new tests claiming more specialized results crop up every few years.