March 24, 2010
Higher SAT Scores Boost Egg Donor Prices

College newspapers feature high prices offered for donor eggs. The prices are higher for more elite institutions whose students are considered (correctly) to have more valuable genetic endowments.

(Garrison, NY) Many egg donation agencies and private couples routinely exceed compensation recommendation limits for potential donors, a new study finds. 

From a sample of over 300 college newspapers, findings revealed that almost one-quarter of advertisements offered payment in excess of $10,000, a violation of guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

I do not see why the American Society for Reproductive Medicine should have any say in the matter. Will doctors spend decades raising the babies? Nope. The recipients of the donor eggs are the ones who raise the babies to adulthood and deal with the consequences of who they chose to pay for donor eggs.

Given that intelligence has a strong genetically inherited component it is not surprising that people reasonably pay more for eggs which they think will boost the odds of having smarter babies.

Compensation strongly correlated with average SAT score of the university’s students, according to the study published in The Hastings Center Report by researcher Aaron D. Levine, of the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition, approximately one-quarter of the advertisements listed specific requirements for potential donors, such as appearance or ethnicity. This also goes against ASRM guidelines, which prohibit linking compensation to donor personal characteristics. 

Why shouldn't people use appearances when screening donors? Appearances are more than skin deep. More symmetrical and healthier people have less load of harmful mutations.

$2,350 per 100 SAT points.

Holding all else equal, such as demand for in vitro fertilization within a state and donor agency variables, Levine found that each increase of 100 SAT points in the average for a university increased the compensation offered to egg donors at that school by $2,350. Of the advertisements violating ASRM guidelines, many offered $20,000, several offered $35,000, and one was as high as $50,000.

The $50k is worth it if the kid grows up with 15 or 20 more IQ points. The added intellectual ability will reduce the chances of criminality, unemployment, death by accident, and other undesired outcomes.

The ASRM objects to higher prices. Why?

Current ASRM guidelines recommend that sums of $5,000 or more require justification and sums above $10,000 are not appropriate.

Why not choose egg donors with the same sort of assessments we use when choosing mates?

In a related commentary, John A. Robertson, of the University of Texas, argues against greater regulation, and calls the current guidelines into question themselves. “After all, we allow individuals to choose their mates and sperm donors on the basis of such characteristics,” he writes. “Why not choose egg donors similarly?”

Cheap DNA sequencing is going to lead to the development of a much more sophisticated market for donor eggs and donor sperm. Genetic testing will decrease uncertainty about offered eggs. The best will command huge premiums.

Once tens of thousands of genetic variants have known effects and they become easily tested for the sellers of donor eggs will be compared against lists of desired traits. Young women who would like to sell their eggs will compare their genetic test results with bids for combinations of most desired traits. The women whose genetic endowments are most sought after will be able to place their genetic test results on a web site and ask for bids.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 24 10:16 PM  Reproduction Marketplace

AB said at March 25, 2010 2:27 AM:

Wrong. It's not the parents who have to deal with the consequences of egg donor selection. It's the product of the design a kid project - the kid himself - the one who has to live his or her entire life with one half of his identity hijacked by two people who paid a lot of money to do so. That's why sperm donor kids are hooking up online to find daddy. Adoptees did this long ago. Now, the search for mom will take place.

DowlanSmith said at March 25, 2010 9:13 AM:

"My body, my choice" is a lot more of an credible argument for an egg donor.

TooMuchTime said at March 25, 2010 10:26 AM:

Cut me some slack! The only reason the ASRM is complaining is because they don't get a piece of the action. If they got 25-50% of the cost, the ASRM would send out a press release defending how fair, equitable, and reasonable the charge is. Scum.

David said at March 25, 2010 4:28 PM:

The folks here aren't complaining about the practice of anonymous egg donation, but rather the use of extra money to get eggs with the most favorable genetic profiles.
Ask yourself, assuming that you're the product of an anoymously donated egg, would you rather have genes giving you a higher expected level of attractiveness and intelligence or not? Having your biological mother be the same as your 'mom' isn't an option on that table.
Life is far from fair. I've known some folks in real life with ridiculously favorable phenotypes (i.e., great looking, socially adept, agile, extremely smart, and exceptionally healthy) and some at the other end of the spectrum. Neither God nor Nature is in any way interested in 'Point Balance', as if life were some massive RPG.

Joe Blow said at March 26, 2010 10:46 AM:

>>>The $50k is worth it if the kid grows up with 15 or 20 more IQ points.

Yeah, but not if he turns into just one more Harvard educated jerk who thinks he has the right to go around telling everybody else how to live. I mean, what is meant by "worth it?" I'm more concerned that my boy grows up to be a decent person, a hard worker, content with his life and kind to those around them. Yeah, I hope he wins the Nobel (by then you'll get it for being elected Mayor of Mt. Airy, NC) but I mainly want him to be happy and good.

Guess that makes me a real weirdo by societal standards.

JAY said at March 26, 2010 11:45 AM:

Only the government should be allowed to sell eggs.

Keith_Indy said at March 26, 2010 1:00 PM:

What's wrong with trying to give your kid every possible genetic advantage?

Rich people are going to do it, no matter what the regulations.

They could just as easily get the "egg donor" impregnated, and pay for it that way.

When we have a kid, I want them to be healthy when growing up. Everything else is learned behavior (at least in theory.)

Oligonicella said at March 26, 2010 1:11 PM:

JAY @11:45 AM -- Oh, hell no.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2010 6:50 PM:

Joe Blow,

Most graduates of Harvard do not go into politics. Most go into more lucrative fields.


The government doesn't have the ability to produce eggs. Only young women possess that ability. Why should the government have ownership rights over the eggs of young women?

JB said at March 26, 2010 8:51 PM:

"Why should the government have ownership rights over the eggs of young women?"

He must be a member of The Dumbest Generation, who think the government should be in charge of everything.

Josh said at April 24, 2010 5:10 PM:

An interesting correlation between family income and SAT test scores can be found in the College Board's new research study. Specifically, a 40 point increase in scores per $20,000 in family income.

Post a comment
Name (not anon or anonymous):
Email Address:
Remember info?

Go Read More Posts On FuturePundit
Site Traffic Info
The contents of this site are copyright ©