As I’ve written in the past, there have been persistent reports of sperm shortages in the UK and Canada. The stories–particularly the ones from the UK–are vexing as people draw causal links that seem to me to be unwarranted. (In particular, people related the UK sperm shortage to a change in UK law regarding anonymity despite the fact there appear to be more donors since the law took effect.)
Anyway here’s a very brief story about another reported sperm shortage–one new to me. This time it is in China.
Several interesting things, even though the story is really very brief. First, you can see that the cultural attitudes towards sperm donation are very important. That’s unsurprising but it ties into why there is differential pricing for gametes from different types of donors. Simple economics would suggest you have to offer more money in order to overcome greater reluctance to be a gamete provider.
Second, there’s the note about the number of permitted offspring. I’ve written in the past about the “too many offspring” problem. Limiting the use of the sperm is the most obvious way to deal with the issue, but this is the counterweight: Allowing too few offspring means you need more sperm providers. (I’ve read that this is related to the real problem in the UK.)
Third, there is what sounds like an epidemic of infertility–and presumably male infertility. Wouldn’t it be good to know what might cause this?
But really what I find myself thinking about is what isn’t in the article. The demographics in China are such that young men vastly outnumber young women. (That’s because of the one-child policy and the strong cultural preference for sons.) This hardly seems like the sort of situation in which you’d see a sperm shortage. I’d love to know how it all fits together.