Can You Buy Sperm Donor Identification? An Experiment

I. Glenn Cohen

Harvard Law School

Travis G. Coan

Harvard Law School

May 21, 2013

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 10, Issue 4, December 2013

In the United States, most sperm donations are anonymous. By contrast, many developed nations require sperm donors to be identified, typically requiring new sperm (and egg) donors to put identifying information into a registry that is made available to a donor-conceived child once they reach the age of 18. Recently, advocates have pressed U.S. states to adopt these registries as well, and state legislatures have indicated openness to the idea. This study re-lies on a self-selected convenience sample to experimentally examine the economic implications of adopting a mandatory sperm donor identification regime in the U.S. Our results support the hypothesis that subjects in the treatment (non-anonymity) condition need to be paid significantly more, on average, to donate their sperm. When restricting our attention to only those subjects that would ever actually consider donating sperm, we find that individuals in the control condition are willing-to-accept an average of $$43 to donate, while individuals in the treatment group are willing-to-accept an aver-age of $74. These estimates suggest that it would cost roughly $31 per sperm donation, at least in our sample, to require donors to be identified. This price differential roughly corresponds to that of a major U.S. sperm bank that operates both an anonymous and identify release programs in terms of what they pay donors.

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Date posted: May 21, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Cohen, I. Glenn and Coan, Travis G., Can You Buy Sperm Donor Identification? An Experiment (May 21, 2013). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 10, Issue 4, December 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2268008

Contact Information

I. Glenn Cohen (Contact Author)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1525 Massachusetts Avenue
Griswold Hall 503
Cambridge, 02138
United States

Travis Glenn Coan
Harvard Law School ( email )
Cambridge, MA
United States
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