Nature, nurture and socioeconomic policy--What can we learn from molecular genetics?
Many countries use public resources to compensate individuals with genetic disorders, identified by behaviors/symptoms such as chronic diseases and disabilities. This paper draws attention to molecular genetic research which may provide a new dimension to our understanding of how socioeconomic outcomes are generated. We provide an overview of the recently emerging evidence of gene-environment interaction effects. This literature points out specific areas where policies may compensate groups of individuals carrying genetic risks, without the need to identify anyone's genetic endowments. Moreover, epigenetics studies, which concern heritable changes in gene functions that occur independently of the DNA sequence, have shown that environments may affect heritable traits across generations. It means that policies which neutralize adverse environments may also increase intergenerational mobility, given that genetic and/or environmental risk factors are more common in socially disadvantaged groups.
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