Can You Buy Sperm Donor Identification? An Experiment

32 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2012 Last revised: 20 Oct 2012

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 10, 2012


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 relies 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. We find that individuals in the control condition are willing-to-accept an average of $83.78 to donate, while individuals in the treatment group are willing-to-accept an average of $124.21. These estimates suggest that it would cost roughly $40 per sperm donor per donation, at least in our sample, to require donors to be identified.

Keywords: Sperm Donation, Contingent Valuation, Experimental Analysis, Randomization Inference

Suggested Citation

Coan, Travis Glenn and Cohen, I. Glenn, Can You Buy Sperm Donor Identification? An Experiment (July 10, 2012). Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 12-36, 7th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Travis Glenn Coan

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

I. Glenn Cohen (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts Avenue
Griswold Hall 503
Cambridge, 02138
United States

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