Wellbeing Effects of Anonymous Donation of Eggs and Sperm

Donating gametes (eggs, sperm) via clinics as anonymous donors is one of the highest return-to-effort things individuals can do to increase overall wellbeing.

  •  Professor Wenceslao  UnanueProfessor Wenceslao Unanue
    Neither agree nor disagree
    Indeed, donating gametes via clinics as anonymous donors may increase well-being. However, it is not clear if donating gametes is the highest return-to-effort things individuals can do to increase overall wellbeing. Research has shown that other kind of pro-social behavior/altruism (e.g. donating money, protecting the environment, volunteering, etc.) may also increase well-being. It would be very interesting to explore which one of those actions have the highest impact on happiness, but as far as I know, there is not a final answer yet.

  •  Professor Nick  PowdthaveeProfessor Nick Powdthavee
    Agree
    I have life satisfaction and meaningfulness in mind here as wellbeing outcomes. I guess I'll have to agree, but with a caveat of whose wellbeing do we have in mind here. The wellbeing of the donor? The wellbeing of the receivers? Or the wellbeing of the future kids? If we are talking about the wellbeing of the receivers, then yes, definitely. I'm not sure it increases the donors' wellbeing, given that a lot of people donate because of other incentives (mostly financial, I would have guessed). As for the future kids, I suppose it depends on the quality of the donated gametes since we know genetics are very important to one's wellbeing. For example, what are the implications on the children's wellbeing if the gametes were of bad quality genetically speaking?

  •  Professor Ada  Ferrer-i-CarbonnellProfessor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
    Disagree
    This is only true if we solely consider the unhappiness of unfertile or single parents and ignore children?s rights as well as the negative effects on the lifelong well-being of children.

  •  Doctor Chris  Barrington-LeighDoctor Chris Barrington-Leigh
    Completely disagree
    To mention egg and sperm donation in the same thought is too big a juxtaposition. They've nearly nothing in common from the point of view of the donor. While there is evidence that we get a well-being boost from anonymous donations of money to charitable causes, there is plenty of evidence that pro-social activities done with others and with meaning are better for well-being.

  •  Professor Dan  HaybronProfessor Dan Haybron
    Disagree
    I expect there are plenty of more efficient ways to promote wellbeing but will leave that to the economists, focusing here on some philosophical puzzles. One might think that helping create a new life does tremendous good simply by bringing a person into being. There?s a sense in which any new life worth living ?increases overall wellbeing?: you?ve helped add a valuable life to the world. But we don?t ordinarily think of that as a very compelling reason to proliferate babies. It seems odd to puzzle over whether one would best promote overall wellbeing by giving to Oxfam or having a baby. Indeed, if this were a strong reason to have babies, we run into what the late Derek Parfit called the ?repugnant conclusion?: it could be better to seek a vast population with barely tolerable lives than to seek a good quality of life for a merely large population. Given the sheer number of people, the quantity of wellbeing could be higher in the Malthusian world. Generally, it seems more important to make people?s lives better than to create more lives. When we think of an increase in ?overall wellbeing,? we tend not to picture creating more, possibly worse-off, people. You might think the solution is to promote, not total well-being, but *average* wellbeing. But one way to raise average wellbeing is to get rid of the people with below-average wellbeing: kill the unhappy, say. This too is repugnant. Such head-scratchers can arise even if one isn?t a utilitarian (someone who thinks morality is purely about maximizing well-being). But they are among the reasons a majority of moral philosophers?about 2/3 in a recent poll?reject such moral theories.

  •  Professor Arie  KapteynProfessor Arie Kapteyn
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I really don't know. this seems a matter of supply and demand; if there already is plenty of supply then being yet another donor does not necessarily contribute much. Also the effect of children on parents' happiness is somewhat debatable. See the paper by Deaton and Stone

  •  Professor Bruno  FreyProfessor Bruno Frey
    Completely disagree
    There are so many more important things in society such as war or migration.

  •  Professor Leonardo  BechettiProfessor Leonardo Bechetti
    Disagree
    Uncertain effects on wellbeing on both the donor and the receiver side

  •  Professor Homa  ZarghameeProfessor Homa Zarghamee
    Disagree
    The effort required of women donating eggs is significantly greater than men donating sperm. The long-term risks to women's physical health (e.g., cancer, premature menopause, and infertility) are still unknown.

  •  Doctor Daniel  BenjaminDoctor Daniel Benjamin
    Completely disagree
    I would be shocked if the statement were true. I don't see any reason to think that (in general, on average across people) donating gametes increases well-being, and I can think of reasons why it at least for some people, it would reduce well-being. For example, it may violate some people's religious beliefs, or make them feel uncomfortable to know that they may have children they will never meet. In any case, I am sure that other low-effort things that would improve well-being by more for most people, such as reading some basic financial advice to invest in well-diversified index funds. (By well-being, I mean a person's reasoned preferences.)

  •  Professor Peter  SingerProfessor Peter Singer
    Disagree
    Donating gametes as anonymous donors is likely to increase overall wellbeing, and for sperm donors, the effort is minimal, but for egg donors it is more significant, and I don't think anyone could say that the return-to-effort matches, for example, donating $50 to the Fred Hollows Foundation to prevent someone going blind. No doubt the effort involved in making a donation depends on one's economic situation, but for most people in affluent societies, there are many highly effective charities that offer a better return-to-effort ratio than being an egg donor offers a woman.

  •  Professor Heinz  WelschProfessor Heinz Welsch
    Disagree
    If the aim is "the greatest happiness of the greatest number", adopting a child seems to be a better strategy than in-vitro fertilization (not to mention the potential troubles and hazards of the latter).

  •  Professor Richard  EasterlinProfessor Richard Easterlin
    Disagree
    One's overall satisfaction with life depends much more on the things that relate to a person's foremost concerns, day after day: job and income security, family circumstances, health, type of work.

  •  Professor Ruut  VeenhovenProfessor Ruut Veenhoven
    Neither agree nor disagree
    Donation will mostly add to the happiness of infertile people who want a child, but anonimity will often be detrimental to the happiness of the child. Non-animous donation is to be preferred and is feasible

  •  Professor Mariano  RojasProfessor Mariano Rojas
    Disagree
    I do believe there are many high return-to-effort things people can do to increase overall wellbeing; such as fostering gratifying interpersonal relations and practicing pro-social behavior. These things have greater impact on overall wellbeing.





The right of a child to know who their donor was when they turn 18 outweighs (in an overall wellbeing sense) the possibility that this right-to-know leads to a shortage of donors and reduces the number of donor-conceived children.

  •  Professor Wenceslao  UnanueProfessor Wenceslao Unanue
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I am not sure about the correct answer, so sorry but it is not my field of expertise. I think you need to add an additional answer option (NA).

  •  Professor Nick  PowdthaveeProfessor Nick Powdthavee
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I'm afraid I don't have a clear opinion on this one.

  •  Professor Ada  Ferrer-i-CarbonnellProfessor Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonnell
    Agree
    From a pure well-being perspective, we would need to weight the well-being loss of parents due to a possible shortage of donors against the increase of well-being of the children who could know their genetic background. The answer is uncertain. If we consider however that the right to know one?s genetic background should be a basic human right that we cannot infringe, the answer is clearly yes.

  •  Doctor Chris  Barrington-LeighDoctor Chris Barrington-Leigh
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I don't know enough about this, research or otherwise, nor its sigificance, to have an opinion. I doubt knowing who one's biological parent is matters as much for well-being as countless other childhood factors.

  •  Professor Dan  HaybronProfessor Dan Haybron
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I don't have a firm view on this question, save to note that if the child does have such a right, it may take priority even if enforcing it does result in lower overall wellbeing. Generally, rights are taken to be constraints on the promotion of wellbeing. (At least in particular cases. A utilitarian might say we should protect rights because such a policy serves the greater good in the long run.)

  •  Professor Arie  KapteynProfessor Arie Kapteyn
    Disagree
    This seems a discussion about "rights" that one can disagree with.

  •  Professor Bruno  FreyProfessor Bruno Frey
    Agree
    The donors want to escape any hassle that might occur so many years after the initial event

  •  Professor Leonardo  BechettiProfessor Leonardo Bechetti
    Agree strongly
    Identity and wellbeing of an individual and information concerning something important for her/his life is more important You cannot sacrifice something of a human being to improve wellbeing of another human being

  •  Professor Homa  ZarghameeProfessor Homa Zarghamee
    Disagree
    Sweden's right-to-know was followed by a shortage in Sweden so that the majority of Swedish women seeking insemination use sperm from Denmark, which maintains anonymity. Britain's right to know has been followed by similar shortages. That said, any shortage can in theory be eliminated with increased incentives to donate. One such experiment was conducted in the US: https://academic.oup.com/jlb/article/3/3/468/2433403/Sperm-donor-anonymity-and-compensation-an Importantly, a minority of children of donation have sought out the donating parent. Much of the trouble seems to lie in not having been told the circumstances of birth (e.g., the social father is not the biological father), less in the donating parent's identity.

  •  Doctor Daniel  BenjaminDoctor Daniel Benjamin
    Disagree
    I suspect that only some children want to know who their donor was, and I suspect that for most of the children who do want to know, the frustration they experience by not knowing is not especially great. However, I suspect that most would-be parents who cannot find enough donors experience an enormous amount of frustration. That being said, I am not that certain about any of my suppositions in this response, nor am I at all sure how many children there are who want to know who their donor was vs. how many would-be parents there are. (In this case, I inferred from the question that the well-being I was meant to consider is social well-being, which I am thinking about essentially as utilitarian.)

  •  Professor Peter  SingerProfessor Peter Singer
    Disagree
    I don't know enough about the impact of giving 18 year olds the right to know is on reducing the number of donor-conceived children, but if it is significant, then one must balance the possible distress of not knowing who one's father is against the happiness of parents in being able to have a child, plus the future well-being of the child who would not otherwise have existed.

  •  Professor Heinz  WelschProfessor Heinz Welsch
    Agree
    I know little about the happiness impact of a child (not) knowing who their donor was but, as implied by my response to Statement 1, I do not consider a shortage of donors a big threat to overall wellbeing since adopting a child seems to lead to greater happiness for a greater number.

  •  Professor Richard  EasterlinProfessor Richard Easterlin
    Agree
    Relationships, and especially family relationships, are of central importance to overall well-being.

  •  Professor Ruut  VeenhovenProfessor Ruut Veenhoven
    Agree
    life satisfaction

  •  Professor Mariano  RojasProfessor Mariano Rojas
    Neither agree nor disagree
    I would say that the right of the child should prevail over the impact this measure would have in the number of donor-conceived children. But, sincerely, I do not see this issue as a major theme in Latin America: the large number of adolescent -and single- pregnant women in Latin America seems to me a most relevant issue. In this part of the world the main issues do not revolve around a low fertility rate.