Almost one in eight couples turns to Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) to have a child. Although, the usage varies significantly. A new Oxford study enlightens the reasons behind this. Scientists here mainly focusing on moral and social factors and religion as key.
This is for the first time, scientists have accessed the relative importance of the role that economic, demographic and cultural normative factors play in the process.
During the study, scientists compared the popularity of ART usage across 35 European countries since 2010. However, economic factors and national wealth are important, but they are not merely affordability that determines the use of ART. Rather, ART treatments were more widely used in countries where it was considered culturally and morally acceptable to do so.
Scientists also documented an ART accessibility scorecard for each country they measured data on. Analyzing them suggests no direct relationship between the availability of the treatment on the scorecard and the number of people using it. This gap between availability and actual take-up points to other underlying factors driving country differences in ART usage. It suggests normative cultural values play a role.
Religion was found to be a key factor, with a strong correlation between the size of religious Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim groups in a country and the ART usage. Having a higher proportion of Protestants in a country explained a large part (25%) of higher ART take-up.
The study also revealed a relationship between cultural attitudes in countries where ART was considered to be socially acceptable, with the number of people using the treatment.
Patrick Präg, Lead-author and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Sociology and Nuffield College, said, “When people think of infertility treatments, they usually expect biological or economic aspects to be the most important drivers. Our findings, however, make a compelling case that social factors play a key role.”