The Price of Smart Eggs

egg donor 1

William Saletan writes up some recent research from Georgia Institute of Technology professor Aaron Levine on the market for human eggs with certain characteristics:

But the big story is SAT scores. “Holding all else equal, an increase of one hundred SAT points in the score of a typical incoming student increased the compensation offered to oocyte donors at that college or university by $2,350,” Levine reports. When the ad was placed for a specific couple, the premium was higher: $3,130 per 100 SAT points. And when an egg donor agency placed the ad on behalf of the couple, the bonus per 100 points rose to $5,780.

I don’t find this all that surprising, though SAT scores seem like a rather crude metric.

Saletan, meanwhile, comments that “science and narcissism are limiting eugenic stratification” but I think he’s overestimating what narcissism is doing. Saletan notes that “[m]ost couples want their own offspring, not donor eggs or sperm” which is true. But given the way society functions, I bet most children with high-SAT mothers also have high-SAT fathers. If it were the case that SAT scores were purely a product of heritable genetic characteristics, we’d already be just as eugenically stratified as egg donations could make us. But the incorporation of crass things like money and precise SAT scores, doesn’t change the fact that in non-donor contexts you typically have people who went to fancy colleges marrying each other and thus, in practice, selecting for high SAT score.