Wake Forest Law Review
Peter H. Huang, Herd Behavior in Designer Genes, 34 Wake Forest L. Rev. 639 (1999), available at https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/faculty-articles/613.
The ability of individuals to choose their children's genes has increased over time and may ultimately culminate in a world involving free market reprogenetic technologies. Reprogenetic technologies combine advances in reproductive biology and genetics to provide humans increased control over their children's genes. This Article offers economic perspectives that are helpful in understanding the possibly unexpected ethical, legal, and social issues at stake in using reprogenetic technologies for trait enhancement selection. The Appendix analyzes two competitive games that might arise in such a biotechnological society. Specifically, the Article focuses on herd behavior, caused by either a popularity contest or positional competition, in the choice of genetic traits. The analytical game-theoretic models in the Appendix can have several equilibrium outcomes in terms of individual reprogenetic technological choices and corresponding beliefs about such choices by others. This multiplicity of potential social outcomes suggests that a society can attain efficiency if the state or some private organization transforms individual parents' beliefs over the choices of other parents regarding their children's traits and, thus, coordinates parental reprogenetic decisions by selecting, as focal, certain beliefs over parents' reprogenetic decisions.
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