Sperm banks bulging during recession
With college tuition and fees up more than 440% over the past 25 years, according to the Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, it's not surprising that students are trying to make a buck any way they can. But jobs are harder to come by in the economic downturn, and that has had a peculiar side effect: In the U.S., more young men are turning to sperm donation as a part-time job.
It's the reverse of trends in the U.K. and Australia, which are seeing sperm shortages, largely as a result of laws that give children the right to seek out the identity of their donor fathers. In Australia, sperm banks are starting to advertise heavily in the hope of attracting more donors. A couple of years ago, when sperm banks in Sydney faced similar shortages, they imported sperm from the U.S. In the U.K., by contrast, some women are reportedly seeking out "viking" sperm from Denmark.
In the U.S., however, where most sperm banks allow donors to remain anonymous, some businesses say they've seen a dramatic rise in donor applications since the economy cratered a couple years ago. "I would say there's been a 15% to 20% increase in donors since the recession hit," says Kevin Foster, president of Sperm Donors Inc., an Idaho-based agency that matches donors and hopeful parents.