Researchers Want to Link Your Genes to Your Income but Should They?

The UK Biobank is the single largest public genetic repository in the world, with samples of the genetic blueprints of half a million Brits standing by for scientific study. But when David Hill, a statistical geneticist at the University of Edinburgh, went poring through that data, he wasn’t looking for a cure for cancer or deeper insights into the biology of aging. Nothing like that. He was trying to figure out why some people make more money than others.

Hill and like-minded colleagues are working on a science they call sociogenomics. There are many useful uses for the information. For instance, a “genetic income score” could allow economists and epidemiologists to more precisely investigate fundamental questions about inequality.

However, there is a dark side to the information found:

  • Prospective employers could ask you to submit your genetic income score as part of a job application.
  • Health and life insurers could use it to calculate your premiums.
  • Social programs might use it as disqualifying criteria for receiving benefits.
  • Apps like the ones that prevent you from accidentally dating a relative could help you pair up with those genetically inclined toward prosperity.
  • In Vitro Fertilization clinics could incorporate it into their genetic screening procedures so parents can choose the highest earning embryos in addition to the healthiest ones.

Do we really want to develop this “science”? You can read and then decide for yourself by starting at: http://bit.ly/2UdUYQz.

3 Comments

Interesting. However, I have to believe that EVERYONE knows families where there is a great deal of variation in prosperity among siblings – even twins – so calling this a really predictive science may be a bit of a stretch.

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This is not the reason I joined the UK bio bank! I see it as misuse of my freely given data.

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Tough to stuff the genie back into the bottle. Once data goes public, you can’t choose how it’s used.

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