Economics Uncut

Economics Uncut

A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure

Edited by Simon W. Bowmaker

This highly innovative and intriguing book applies principles of microeconomics to unusual settings to inspire students, teachers and scholars alike in the ‘dismal science’. Leading experts show how economics reaches into the strangest of places and throws light onto the occasionally dark side of human nature.

Chapter 10: Economics of assisted reproduction

Sherrie A. Kossoudji

Subjects: economics and finance, cultural economics, methodology of economics


Sherrie A. Kossoudji Typically, when two people decide to become parents, they procreate by copulation and produce a child. What do people do if, for some reason, they cannot produce their own children but want to be parents? Until recently, if a couple wanted to have children, but was unable to do so because of fertility problems, there were limited options. They could adopt a child to become the legal parents of a child who had no legal parents, have a child who was the progeny of only one of them, or could become foster parents, the temporary (and paid) caregivers of a child who still had legal parents. Such activities are historically common and were often market exchanges. Zelizer (1985), noting the importance of the work that foster children provided for their families, claims that, ‘the legitimacy of child labor was essential to early nineteenth-century substitute care arrangements’. In fact, child auctions (for fostering) were not prohibited in Sweden until 1918 (Lundberg, 2000). Zelizer also argues that the changing social value of children rendered them as, ‘exclusively emotional and moral assets’ who were transformed from economic assets into ‘priceless’ children in the early twentieth century. Children may have become recommodified: at the beginning of the twenty-first century, excess demand for children to adopt in the United States has led to an international adoption market that has greatly increased the supply of adoptable children. A child is created when an ovum is fertilized by a sperm and together...

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