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Foetal programming meets human capital: biological plasticity, development, and the limits to the economization of life
journal contributionposted on 2023-10-03, 02:13 authored by Tessa MollTessa Moll, Maurizio MeloniMaurizio Meloni, A Issaka
The disciplinary integration of biology and economy is taking new forms in the postgenomic era, transforming long-standing exchanges between human biology and economics. In this article, we first describe how an emerging area of research in development and health economics has embraced, stabilized, and expanded the emerging field of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD). We map the global expansion of this literature particularly in the Global South. Via an analysis of shifting models of health in human capital, we argue that as economists draw on DOHaD theories, their increasing focus on marginalized groups in postcolonial settings produces a darker model of health deficit. Based on notions of accumulated shocks, this model questions the generalizable expansion of the economization of life and speaks to a wider and more sombre range of figures. Health models in economics reflect the double nature of biological and developmental plasticity caught between agency and passivity, change, and near-permanency.