Daily Management Review

How genetic engineering can affect the world economy


Not far off is the time when parents will choose what child they want to conceive. The genome editing technologies were originally to correct genes, causing the development of serious diseases. Today, however, it is clear that sphere of application of genetic tools could be much wider. If someday mankind becomes able to give birth to healthy children, then the descendants should also be beautiful, and intelligent.

If genetics are right, the scientists can confidently edit the human genome within five to ten years. This is a rather short period of time, and maybe we should already start preparing. Emergence of a generation that is smarter than us is not just a current debate about the ethics of genetic engineering, but also quite concrete economic consequences. 

According to scientists, not just smart, but ultra-intelligent people can come along soon. Today we know that some parts of the DNA chain can affect cognitive ability. In theory, strengthening of these areas, depending on the amount of intervention, can increase the human intelligence by a few (or a dozen) points on the IQ scale, or even create a person with abilities equivalent to 1000 points. At least this possibility predicts vice-president of research Michigan State University and scientific consultant BGI (Beijing genomics Institute) Steven Hsu.

We can assume that many would appeal to such a technology its operation is proven. Numerous studies and common sense tell us that the human intelligence has a tremendous impact on a person’s way of life. If today's parents are willing to invest a lot of money in development and education of children, it is quite possible to imagine how much they would invest in their child’s future at the stage of conception. 

How will this affect the economy?

Genetic engineering will have to be subsidized by governments, as well as other kinds of high-tech medical care. This will be demanded by both Liberals and Conservatives. The first need this to ensure equal access to new opportunities for every stratum of society, and the second - to ensure a state's competitiveness on the global market.

Governments will be sure that citizens with the enhanced IQ can be much more productive employees. This people will actively borrow money in anticipation of increased productivity and future taxes. For this reason, companies are also more likely to begin to borrow and invest more in new equipment and buildings. Many assets, including real estate and intellectual property, will go up in an affluent society.

Individuals are looking forward for this bright future, too. This will force them to reduce their savings. In addition, citizens will expect that affluent states to increase programs supporting the aging population. This is another reason to worry less about how to live on in retirement.

General trends - desire to spend and unwillingness to save money - will cause growth of bank interest rates. Higher rates are likely to stimulate savings and restrain spending, and thus restore a certain balance in the future money markets. That is, if simplistic, genetic engineering may become a factor of stable long-term growth, which the world economy has long been waiting for. However, the real impact of the ultra-intelligent employees on the final results of economic activity may be lower than expected due to a variety of other factors. Then, the world will face another investment bubble. These hypotheses are yet to be tested.

Original by James.D.Miller, businessinsider.com