2010 March 24 Wednesday
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.

By Randall Parker    2010 March 24 10:16 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (11)
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