Assessing long-run economic benefits attributed to an IVF-conceived singleton based on projected lifetime net tax contributions in the UK

Hum Reprod. 2009 Mar;24(3):626-32. doi: 10.1093/humrep/den435. Epub 2008 Dec 4.


Background: Over the past decade, demand for fertility treatments has increased as a result of delaying time to first pregnancy and growing awareness and acceptance of available treatment options. Despite increasing demand, health authorities often view infertility as a low health priority and consequently limit access to treatments by rationing and limiting funds.

Methods: To assess the long-term economic benefits attributed to in vitro fertilization (IVF)-conceived children, we developed a health investment model to evaluate whether state-funded IVF programmes in the UK represent sound fiscal policies. Based on the average investment cost to conceive an IVF singleton, we describe the present value of net taxes derived from gross taxes paid minus direct government transfers received (e.g. education, health, pension) over the lifetime of the child. To establish the present value of investing in IVF, we have discounted all costs from benefits (i.e. lifetime taxes paid) using UK Treasury department rates based on a singleton delivery with similar characteristics for education, earnings, health and life expectancy to a naturally conceived child.

Results: The lifetime discounted value of net taxes from an IVF-conceived child with mother aged 35 is pound 109,939 compared with pound 122,127 for a naturally conceived child. The lifetime undiscounted net tax contribution for the IVF-conceived child and naturally conceived child are pound 603,000 and pound 616,000, respectively.

Conclusions: An investment of pound 12,931 to achieve an IVF singleton is actually worth 8.5-times this amount to the UK Treasury in discounted future tax revenue. The analysis underscores that costs to the health sector are actually investments when a broader government perspective is considered over a longer period of time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accounting
  • Federal Government
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro / economics*
  • Fertilization in Vitro / methods
  • Financing, Government / statistics & numerical data*
  • Forecasting
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Policy / economics*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / therapy*
  • Models, Economic
  • Pensions
  • Pregnancy
  • Taxes / economics
  • Taxes / statistics & numerical data*
  • United Kingdom