March 3, 2024


The well-educated are significantly more open to the idea of “designing” babies than the poorly educated, according to a new study by psychologists at the University of East Anglia in the UK. They also found that there are gender, age and socio-economic class differences in what is deemed desirable and that many prospective parents would be prepared to manipulate their babies in ways that are at odds with moral orthodoxy.

Although the study was based on several small surveys, the results are intriguing:

  • The better educated prospective parents are, the further they are prepared to go to improve their children’s IQ.
  • Women interpret certain interventions in child rearing as “design acts” more readily than men and people over 50 more readily than people under 25.
  • Because of “parental uncertainty” — the idea than women know for certain if a child is their’s whereas men do not — men show a significantly greater preference than mothers for their children to inherit their own characteristics.
  • Parents see different physical, social and intellectual characteristics as desirable depending on the sex of the child.
  • Older women and childless women are significantly more willing to “improve” the physical, social and intellectual characteristics of prospective children.
  • Both men and women see genetic engineering as acceptable primarily for medical applications.