Why do some egg donors in the US earn more than others?

Everyone probably knows by now that an egg donation isn’t just an act of benevolence. It’s a sale. And it can be a very lucrative one, if you have the right genetic background. The LA Times reports that Asian egg donors are in particular demand. While women from most ethnic groups receive about $6,000 for a donation, Asian women are routinely being offered $10,000 – $20,000.

Part of this is due to a shortage of Asian donors, and an increase in infertile Asian couples who want a child of their same ethnic background. Experts told the LA Times that there’s a cultural stigma surrounding adoption in many Asian communities, making egg donation a more acceptable option in the eyes of many potential parents.

Not only that, but Asian women tend to out-earn women of other ethnic groups, making 13% more than white women, 31% more than black women, and 52% more than Latinas. So the financial incentives which drive many women to donate their eggs have to be higher to get their interest. Professional Jewish women are also in high demand as egg donors for similar reasons.

Of course, the relative financial security of different ethnic groups goes both ways. African American couples are less likely to seek an egg donation, because for many of them it’s not an affordable option. So even though there are many black women willing to be donors, in many cases they never have the opportunity. One agency owner told the LA Times that some of her competitors wouldn’t even bother putting black donors in their databases.

The uncomfortable disparity between donors of different ethnicities only intensifies the ethical quandary that’s faced doctors for years: is it right to pay women to donate eggs? The process itself can be painful and risky, so it makes sense to compensate a woman for her time and the inconvenience involved. On the other hand, opponents argue it can be exploitative – of course disadvantaged women are going to be more interested in the quick $6000 or more. It seems to be a question without an easy answer.

(Note: South African donors get paid the same, regardless of race)

Via Care2com