Are your genes to blame for not being rich?

Published 12 July 2013 11:37, Updated 15 July 2013 07:31

A new report into social disadvantage has raised the issue of the impact of genetics on wealth. 

The possibility of a “rich” gene has created excitement in recent days following the publication of a new Productivity Commission report entitled Deep and Persistent Disadvantage in Australia. Thursday’s Herald Sun newspaper made room on its front page for a story that discusses some of the report’s key findings. Entitled “Born to Rule” the Herald Sun article begins with the following paragraph: “Rich kids do better at school while poor children struggle due to genetic ‘inherited abilities,’ the Australian government’s top policy research body says.” The idea that offspring of rich people are genetically predisposed to success has important social ramifications. But a principal research adviser for the Productivity Commission Jenny Gordon says that their report has been misinterpreted. “It’s rather sad that one sentence in a report of 256 pages gets stretched to say something that the report didn’t say at all,” Gordon tells BRW. Gordon says the purpose of the Productivity Commission report was to identify causes for people suffering social disadvantage. Under the heading “Explaining difference in education attainment: Inherited abilities”, the report reads:

au/p/lists/young­ rich/2013/young_rich_gavin_fernandez_pmMIE58zeoYiXHdqaep Rant Lifestyle Articles in the News Massachusetts's New Rule (http://lifestylejournal. Gavin Fernandez (http://www.” Recommended for you From Around the Web 2­Year­Old Found Wandering in Woods Clutching His… ( wandering_in_woods) Awesome Animal Pics You Gotta See (­animal­pics­ rich/2013/young_rich_gavin_fernandez_pmMIE58zeoYiXHdqaepQhP) gotta­see/) Young Rich 2013: 60. “It is very difficult to disentangle the genetic elements from the environment [in terms of] intelligence and career­are­ being­ripped­off­by­not­following­one­simple­rule/? ."One explanation for differences in educational attainment between children of low and high socioeconomic backgrounds is parents’ cognitive abilities and inherited” Thorburn says he is not aware of any evidence of a “genetic underclass”. but environment is likely to be an equal or larger component of the outcome. suggests that inherited cognitive abilities explain around one­fifth of the gap in cognitive test scores between children from the richest and poorest families after controlling for a number of environmental it does not present its findings as fact. “It isn’t just genetics. " Gordon says while the Productivity Commission references the British study.cafemom. Professor David Thorburn from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne says genetics are a complex area in which it is difficult to make generalisations. “In almost all areas of life genetics is a component. Thorburn says genetics plays a role in determining most aspects of our lives but the idea there are different genes for different traits and characteristics is wrong.” he says.” Determining the reasons for disadvantage in longitudinal studies is difficult. “There are a huge number of genes involved. each having a small effect.brw.” she says. They overlap in many ways and we can’t really separate them.brw. “We need better data to be able to unpack “It is an interaction between nature and nurture. Gordon says. " "Evidence from the United Kingdom (using the British Cohort Study with data across two generations).” Gordon says. because the people being observed are often homeless and difficult to track over time.