(This article was originally written for and appears on The Washington Institute of Faith, Vocation and Culture platform
Genealogy is having a pop culture moment. It seems that capturing family narrative helps us feed a longing for belonging.
Who knew spitting into a plastic tube would become such a popular pastime? Not to mention lucrative. The direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing market — think 23andMe or AncestryDNA — has skyrocketed since it was first launched in the early 2000s. Today, it generates $1.3 billion dollars and is projected to grow four-fold before 2030, to $5.8 billion.
By the start of 2019, more than 26 million Americans (8% of the U.S. population) had taken one of the many at-home DNA tests available, according to a report by MIT Technology Review. The public’s desire for accessible and affordable data to make personal health decisions has been a major factor leading to the industry’s accelerated growth. DTC genetic tests can be used to determine risks for developing certain diseases, for example, or results can predict how an individual might respond to certain medications.
But the application that has captured the public’s collective imagination most has less to do with medical calculations and everything to do with family history. DTC genetic testing is the shiny new tool in the genealogy tool kit. Continue reading