Determinants of National Policy on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Selected Countries: A Comparative Study
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Embryonic stem cells have remained a polarizing issue around the globe. The plethora of potential applications and technologies are unfamiliar to most of society. Politicians and policy analysts continually work to pass laws acceptable to a public with diverse cultural, educational, and religious backgrounds. In this comparative study, fifty countries are analyzed regarding their stem cell policy, type and size of government, literacy rate, age, religiosity, and public and private research funding. Using binary logistic regression, religiosity demonstrated a significant inverse relationship, and public funding demonstrated a direct significant relationship on permissive ESC polices. As religiosity increased permissive policies decreased; whereas, when public funding increased permissive policies increased. There was no relationship found with age of predominant citizen, literacy, private funding, type of government, or size of government on ESC policy. In the realm of comparative policy theory, culture impacted a country’s position on ESC policy in the form of religion and a pro-science culture evidenced by both public and private funding for ESC research. Future studies should consider using a mixed methods approach in correlating frequency of religious activities and age with opinions on ESC research. Annual funding for research from both public and private sources should also be pursued. The addition of the scientific literacy rate to future studies would also be beneficial in assessing the general understanding of stem cells in the public sphere and how well it correlates with current and future policy on ESC research. The trajectory of ESC research is dependent on both policy and funding. Culture will continue to be a formidable factor in elucidating the nexus between moral issues and advances in stem cell research.
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