Which is better for finding ethnicity, 23andMe or AncestryDNA?

+2 votes
asked in The Tree House by Logan Gavin G2G6 Mach 1 (15.4k points)

4 Answers

+3 votes

I've taken both tests.


Italian 45.9%

French and German 14.7%

British & Irish 14.2 %

Iberian 1.8%

Balkan .7%

Eastern European .2%

Broadly NW European 12.2%

Broadly Southern European 7%

Broadly European 3.4%


Italy 42%

ENG Wales & NW Europe 25%

France 18%

Germanic 11%

Ireland 2%

Norway 1%

Sardinia 1%

So that is how the results come out from each test. I've been trying to find out more about DNA and I found a chart to decide which test to take:

Ancestry - Pros - Americans with colonial ancestry, who know their grandparents, have extensive trees, African Americans; Cons - no info on matching segments, lacks advanced tools and chromosome mapping

23&me - Pros - Has the most tools, good ethnicity/ancestral origins, 2nd largest database; Cons - not very genealogically minded, poor track record with genealogy community and listening to customers

So I guess it depends on what you want to do with it.

answered by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (276k points)
I also forgot to mention that I am having trouble uploading my 23 and me test to gedmatch. I think 23 and me doesn't give enough snps so you have to use the beta version. It has been more than a week that I have been waiting for all the batching to finish. My sister as well. In fact, she uploaded our mother's Ancestry raw data to GEDmatch and it finished by the next day.
You have to use GEDmatch Genesis because the main GEDmatch site is designed to accept uploads using the Illumina OmniExpress chip, which Ancestry use and 23andMe's v4 test used. 23andMe's v5 test uses a different chip, the Illumina Global Screening Array, which tests different SNPs (both chips test around 650K SNPs but they only overlap for 100K).
Oh I know. I did that but it is taking weeks. I am thinking of just doing it again. My sister and I uploaded on the same day and are having the same problem. I already have my Ancestry DNA there no problem. I also uploaded a new GEDcom!
+2 votes
"Ethnicity" testing is mostly a gimmick. It is not as refined or precise as most people seem to think. The genetic differences between most European populations are relatively small. All that a DNA test can say regarding "ethnicity" is that some percentage of your DNA resembles a reference sample of people from a given location with all four grandparents born in that location.

My results from various testing companies:

23andMe: 76% British and Irish, 8.7% French & German, 5.6% Scandinavian, 0.8% Italian, 8.8% broadly NW European, 0.1% broadly Southern European.

Ancestry: 62% England, Wales & NW Europe, 32% Ireland & Scotland, 4% Germanic Europe, 2% France.

(Note: I also have 43 "DNA circles" for known ancestors and four "genetic communities" that match the origins or known migration patterns of ancestors on Ancestry).

LivingDNA: 79% Britain & Ireland, 21% Germanic.

FTDNA (Ancestry upload): 78% British Isles, <2% Eastern Europe, <2% Finland, <2% Southeast Europe, 3% Iberia, 10% West and Central Europe.

MyHeritage (Ancestry upload): 81.4% English, 15.3% Scottish, Irish & Welsh, 3.3% Iberian.

As you can see, there's an awful lot of variation between those; the only thing they agree on is that most of my ancestry is from the British Isles (which is accurate, based on my paper trail and DNA matches).

The ethnicity results are vaguely interesting, but DNA testing is something best used in conjunction with traditional genealogy, where it can verify relationships (or disprove them) going back for around 5 generations (to third great-grandparents) in most cases and as far back as 10 or 11 generations in some cases.
answered by C Handy G2G6 Mach 1 (11.8k points)
+2 votes
It really depends on what you want to get out of it and what your known heritage is. In my case, I went with AncestryDNA because of my Italian background and I was told that AncestryDNA was best for people who had ancestors who came from Italy. That and you can easily download the DNA from there and hit up the major sites like FTDNA and Gedmatch with it.

23andme lets you download it as well from what I understand. It just depends on a lot of things.

Ancestry may even help knock down some of the brick walls you have as their database is largest in the world and with the recent influx of tests, you might strike gold.
answered by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (197k points)
+2 votes

My $0.02:

Actual ethnicity composition as per genealogical research (subject to change as new data appears, previous data is removed, etc; some NAs were inferred, others have no chance of being identified without some form of further info)

  • 75% Italian
    • 12.5% Northern Italian
    • 62.5% Southern Italian
  • 7.91015625% German
  • 7.1533203125% English
  • 6.25% Czech
    • Some very small sliver Rom... DNA triangulation with people born and living in Hungary with a shared Rom ancestor that I match on the same spot they match each other
  • 2.5390625% Completely Unknown
  • 0.78125% Dutch
  • 0.2685546875% Scottish
  • 0.09765625% French

23andMe ethnicity composition

  • 62.2% Italian
  • 10.7% Broadly Southern European
  • 10.1% French and German
  • 5.7% Broadly Northwestern European
  • 3.8% Broadly European
  • 3.3% Balkan
  • 1.7% Western Asian
  • 0.6% British & Irish
  • 0.4% Iberian
  • 0.3% Broadly Western Asian and Native American
  • 0.1% Finnish
  • 0.1% Broadly Sub-Saharan African
  • 0.1% Japanese (???)
  • 0.1% West African
  • 0.8% Unassigned

Ancestry ethnicity composition

  • 77% Italian
  • 9% Germanic Europe
  • 5% England, Wales, and Northwestern Europe
  • 3% Greece and the Balkans
  • 3% Spain
  • 2% Eastern Europe and Russia
  • 1% Baltic States

Hope that helps lead you towards a better pick. As a note: there is a lot of shared genetic history between different regions that can produce surprising results. Additionally, we do not necessarily inherit all the DNA from all of our ancestors, so some pieces may be lost from several generations back.

answered by G. Borrero G2G6 Mach 8 (83.4k points)

My full sister's Ancestry results, for more comparison

  • 76% Italian
  • 6% Germanic Europe
  • 4% England, Wales, and Northwestern Europe
  • 4% Greece and the Balkans
  • 4% France
  • 3% Spain
  • 2% Baltic States
  • 1% Eastern Europe and Russia
Our biofather's genealogical ancestry
  • 100% Italian
    • 68.75% from Montesano sulla Marcellana (Salerno, Campania)
    • 25% from San Pietro in Guarano (Cosenza, Calabria)
    • 6.25% from Tramutola (Potenza, Basilicata)
Our biofather's 23andMe ethnicity composition
  • 82% Italian
  • 7.9% Western Asian
  • 4.3% Broadly Southern European
  • 2.2% Iberian
  • 1.9% Balkan
  • 0.5% North African & Arabian
  • 0.5% Unassigned
  • 0.3% Broadly European

Related questions

+5 votes
0 answers
+5 votes
3 answers
+7 votes
2 answers
1.3k views asked Jun 22, 2016 in The Tree House by B Showalter G2G Crew (440 points)
+20 votes
2 answers
+5 votes
4 answers
+9 votes
3 answers
+5 votes
1 answer

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright