If there is a chance to hibernate one's body for a century depositing some money with an interest rate, I assume many people would do so. It would allow immediately (from person's perspective) to become rich.

Assuming that keeping bodies frozen is a relatively cheap process and investments are good enough to compensate its price and inflation as well, there is no problem when it's performed by a few people. But a significant percentage of the population does that, it would change economics the way it is now.

It doesn't sound like the desired outcome by any government since it seems to stagnate economics at the beginning and shake it on every person gets unfrozen with a huge amount of money on his or her bank account.

How would such pattern of invest & hibernate would be prevented by a government? Or wouldn't it?

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    $\begingroup$ It seems most unlikely that many people would volunteer for a one-way trip to a completely alien era without their families and friends. The only people who might be interested would be those who were so desperate that they could afford neither the cryogenic fee nor any investments. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Scott
    May 19, 2018 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeScott I'm sure there'd also be some eccentric types who would just want to see the future, but you're right, the number of people who would want to go far into the future is negligible $\endgroup$ May 19, 2018 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ People can also choose to go deep-freeze as a large party, with family and friends (and this is consistent with the a significant percentage of the population), so I'm not at all sure that this criticism is valid. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2018 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ The question is based on a fallacy about compound interest. I couldn't find any easy link to its debunking. However, when you realise costs & prices plus inflation will rise over the same period. Your hibernauts are likely to find themselves poorer on defrosting than when they were frozen. Impact on the economy will be negligible. Except for all the out-of-date poor people who will need social benefits to survive. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    May 19, 2018 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ On can argue it's not a fallacy but an assumption explicitly stated in the question: "investments are good enough". $\endgroup$ May 19, 2018 at 9:36

6 Answers 6


There would be an explosion of family trusts. Great grandfather went into the freezer in 2100, but the various g-g-g grandkids, nieces, nephews etc. are not going to be sitting passively around in 2300 watching the Jovian Empire tax away their inheritance. Indeed, the person going into the tank should be aware of the various threats to themselves and their investments to make plans.

So defensive family trusts are arranged, with payouts and perques over the generations to maintain loyalty to the "cause". The active management of the accounts, shifting activities to adjust to the times and having personnel to intervene in security, legal, political and economic events for the benefit of the frozen person and the trust will make positive outcomes more likely.

Some interesting side effects might include "associative mating" as circles of families intersect in rarified financial circles. Wealthy family trusts intermarrying will have some of the effects of royal marriages in the Middle Ages, as families cement alliances to improve their positions in society. Moving to defended, fortress like compounds to keep the family patriarch/popsicle safe may also be a common reaction, especially during times where governments or terrorists see the founder and the family as something to be attacked or exploited.

When Great Granddad finally is defrosted, he will be welcomed into a very different and complex family environment (and probably have more to worry about with family dynamics), overshadowing his amazement at the changes in society, technology and politics.


There are a number of factors to can be used by diverse agents, including a government (or which may even happen spontaneously) that can modulate the success of this strategy, even assuming your stated good enough investments and cheap enough process:

  • (regular) taxation: why not just do that? Increase taxes to a level where you slowly eat away those riches that were earned without much effort anyway by frozen people. A variation on that is:
  • (extraordinary) tax on resurrected people: Every 20 years or so, a government finds it convenient to get an extra bump of available cash by 99%-taxing all benefits the people that went deep-freeze about 90 years ago and are waking out the present decade. To alleviate opposition from rich people planning to go deep-freeze soon, this is always presented as a one-time event and associated with the extraordinary current circumstances, even if it happens again and again each generation.
  • lesser guarantees for the investments of the deep-frozen. Crises happen, investments go bust for all kinds of reasons, and governments step in to prevent chaos. But, you know, if you're not there in person to defend your interests (and/or to bribe the right people) what is there to stop you being left behind? So people might wake up in a 100 years and find that their investments were pooled in the future Lehman Brothers / TEPCO / too-big-to-fail$^{TM}$, and are basically gone. A more dramatic variation on that is:
  • in times of deep crisis, wars / terrorism /sabotage happen. A mere deep blackout of a freezer compound (no explosions even necessary), and suddenly a lot of people are not coming back, and a lot of other people are rich.

On the other hand there is a plus side to not prevent this pattern: climate change alleviation! If a lot of people go deep-freeze, and if the process is efficient, they are alleviating the problem for the rest of us, so I don't think the government would be against it. It's like a socially accepted form of short-term suicide (with long-term resurrection), and it is only used by those who have disposable income and the ability to invest, which are the ones that cause more emissions anyway...

  • $\begingroup$ Bullets 3 & 4 cover exactly the points I was going to make. A secure, century-long, high-yield investment is a real rarity! $\endgroup$
    – JDM-GBG
    May 20, 2018 at 1:08

First, this won't happen all at once, because it can't become a proven technology all at once. It would start with someone being frozen briefly while awaiting some treatment, then iteratively longer periods of freezing in cases of necessity. If the technology were introduced tomorrow, almost no one will say "freeze me for a hundred years" because until the first person survives being frozen for a hundred years and revived successfully afterwards no one can know that it will all turn out OK. So there will be plenty of time to work out the laws around this and have them tested in the courts with the edge cases before there are large numbers of people to deal with.

Secondly, let's seriously examine who is going to do this. This is a really risky thing to do even in the unlikely event you have complete faith in the technology - you are gambling that the institution looking after your corpsicle and its entire surrounding social and technological infrastructure will survive undamaged for decades or centuries and will respect your rights and wishes at the far future time you wish to be revived. Other than any friends joining you in the icebox for an identical period you will be socially isolated and simultaneously dealing with a massive case of future shock from changes in technology and society. Finally, what use is your compound-interest wealth going to be to you in a society composed of uploaded personalities? Simply put, the most likely candidates for this process are aged and/or crippled citizens who are optimistically waiting for rejuvenation therapies to be invented. Given how much of the GDP this demographic requires in health care spending today and how little they contribute to the current GDP, governments are likely to provide incentives for these people to be frozen. Yes, these people will be a headache in lots of ways for some far future government, but that's going to be long after the next election. Or even the one after that.


Stagnation is obtained when people don't invest their money, but rather store it someway.

In that way money is removed from circulation. But your guys are investing it, and hoping to get it back after being thawed.

Even better, there is no chance that those money will be removed quickly from the investment, as the right holder is not able to exercise his right.

Also, governments could tax it like any other investment, getting a gain on it. Or could also make dodgy maneuvers to get all those money for government use. You, something similar to what has been done to Templar or Jewish bankers in the past: fake some accusation on them, condemn them as criminal and take their money.


Cryogenic Revival is the Same as Immortality

If you can freeze somebody solid then revive them you have invented functional immortality. The damage to cells caused by freezing is due to water within cells freezing into little microscopic pointy crystals which puncture cell walls. In addition while frozen solid you are now dead, and while freezing slows the chemical processes of decomposition to a near standstill that does not mean decomposition is not occurring. It's just happening very slowly. Protein chains are breaking down, enzymes are degrading, cell walls are rupturing etc etc. You are dead and decomposing within your icy tomb. Assuming you have some sort of crazy contrivium based nano-tech system that can not only repair all of those dead and ruptured cells, but also rebuild all the protein chains and amino acids and enzymes within the body, AND jump start the whole impossibly complex system back to full operation with zero damage to the individual then you have already bypassed the need to cryogenically freeze them in the first place.

Just apply that same process to somebody every period of time to reset their body on a cellular level back to a more optimally healthy and youthful state. No liquid nitrogen needed! (BEEFCAKE™ muscular upgrade and male enactment package or bust enhancement packages sold separately, please feel free to also ask a sales rep about our PRODIGY™ system of neural upgrades.)

With functional immortality available your people now have centuries or even millennia to pay off the cost of the procedures. Lets say immortality costs 3.5 million to pay off. Well, you are now immortal, so you can pay it off 11,000 a year over a 300 year time span. That's $916.00 a month. Even at current minimum wage that could be affordable. No fancy banking required, even the guy who works at McDonalds can afford to pay off the procedure (though why a 250 year old man hasn't figured out how to make money some other way continues to perplex his 2500 year old and highly disappointed parents.)


In general, most economies do not save or invest enough. This would increase savings and investment. It would generally be a good thing.

You could certainly prevent this with a wealth tax. The return after inflation on the stock market is currently around 7% in the United States (for a time period long enough to include the whole economic cycle). So a 7% tax would eat up all the returns. Nothing left for maintenance of the cryogenic facility. People would go broke while frozen and wake up poor.

Even without explicit government action, the possibility exists that an increase in savers would push market returns down. There is some speculation that the recent bubble markets in internet stocks and housing were partially a result of too much passive savings. If that's true, then the very increase in savings would cause it to become less profitable.

There is a difference between passive investments, like stock index funds, and active investments. People who actively manage their investments will get better returns under this kind of plan. Active investments include starting a business, managing real estate, and engaging in microloans. None of these activities are possible while frozen. In theory, you could hire someone to do this for you, but the labor shortage of everyone freezing would tend to make hiring prohibitively expensive.

For the sake of argument, assume that at the start, low wages are \$10 per hour and the median wage is about \$30 an hour. It costs \$1000 for the cryopod and \$100 a year for maintenance (these prices seem low but are consistent with the cost of a refrigerator). Assuming a real interest rate of .5%, that's a \$21,000 initial investment. And that's just to break even. To get rich, you would need more than that. Let's figure on \$30,000.

If the living wage is about \$15 an hour, then if you work at \$30 an hour and put \$10 an hour into savings, it will take 3000 hours to put away enough to sleep. That's about a year and a half of work, figuring 250 eight-hour work days a year (261 weekdays in the average year; 11 holiday/vacation days). And of course you won't necessarily enter the workforce at \$30 an hour. You either need a successful education or work history to make the median wage. Figure five years for the education or twenty years for the work history.

Anyway, assume you have your \$30,000 stake. \$21,000 immediately goes to the cryo. That leaves you with \$9000. Putting it in the stock market and waiting will double your money after inflation around every ten years. So after a century frozen, you will have \$9 million (which may be \$144 million in nominal terms; inflation will have doubled four times). But normal taxes in the current US would be 20.9% on long term investments for high income people. So you're down to \$7 million.

Now, what happens if the government changes taxes? For example, if taxes were increased to 70% with no special investment rate and payroll taxes were extended to investments with no cap. That would produce a tax rate of 85.3% in the US. The \$9 million would drop to \$1.3 million. Set aside \$200,000 for living on for five years and invest the rest. That's probably enough for a stable \$40,000 a year income. Of course, when you were frozen, you were making \$60,000 a year.

All this ignores other possible problems. In Japan, the stock market stagnated for more than a decade. Twenty years of that at the wrong time would drop the return to \$300,000. That's a \$10,000 a year income where \$30,000 is a living income.

Remember the speculation that more savings would reduce stock market returns? If we reduce stock market returns from 7% to 3.5%, it would take twice as long for our investment to double. So a single century would only produce about \$290,000.

The other side of that is that labor would increase. So that \$30 an hour job might become a \$60 an hour job. So someone who did not freeze might make \$120,000 a year while the frozen could hope for \$40,000 a year. Although, people would probably stop doing it before things got to that point.

Social Security

Realize that the benefits of not paying Social Security for a century are huge. A pro-cryo government might be able to completely fund its borrowing just with that money.

Cryo government

Remember that one of the problems is that the tax rate might increase while you were sleeping. An obvious response to that is a government where the tax rate cannot increase. Consider the possibility of a space station establishing itself as a nation state. It has plenty of electricity to maintain cryo chambers. It could pay a good wage to people who would maintain its systems and might offer a cryo citizenship. Taxes would be fixed in the constitution and flat across people who are and are not frozen.

Cryo loss

We've been talking about this as if it were a perfect program. But the reality is that no technology is 100% reliable. Even a .001% failure rate a year adds up over time. What happens to someone who can't be unfrozen? If not noticed until the decant time arrives, their heirs are either frozen themselves or dead of old age.

Declining population

Another issue is that people who are frozen aren't raising kids. But it's not hard to see the process costing enough to use up the child-bearing years in making enough of a stake to afford it.

Low demand

The alternate possibility is that people will have kids and get caught up in their families rather than freezing themselves. When are parents willing to step away from their children? When the children have children of their own? When those grandchildren go off to college?

This is essentially a program for loners. Most people are not loners. Most people have friends and family that they won't abandon for an uncertain future. While there may be a logical argument in favor of it, it is not an argument that works emotionally for someone who feels part of a larger group.

I'm not saying that no one will participate. I'm saying that only a small number of people will participate. A few well-to-do people who have outlived their close families. The occasional small lottery winner. Small groups of people who feel disconnected from everyone else. A celebrity hoping to make a comeback while still young and good looking. A spurned lover.

If only a few people participate, there are unlikely to be serious economic consequences.


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