October 17, 2013
As wages remain low and unemployment remains high despite increasing corporate profits, US women are increasingly looking to supplement their incomes by selling their hair, eggs and even breast milk, a recent Bloomberg article reports.
According to market strategist Nicholas Colas of the brokerage and trading services company ConvergEx Group, at least one of the top four auto-fill results for the Google search “I want to sell my…” has been “hair,” “eggs” or “kidney” in nine of the 11 fiscal quarters since the beginning of 2011.
Colas, who tracks off-the-grid indicators of economic health, notes that the sale of internal organs such as kidneys is illegal in the United States (with the potential exception of eggs, depending on your definition of “internal organ”).
“The fact that people even explore [kidney donation] indicates that there are still a lot of people worried about their financial outlook,” Colas said. “This is very much unlike every other recovery that we’ve had. It’s going to be a slow-grinding, very frustrating recovery.”
Colas noted that the prevalence of such Internet searches is not necessarily an indicator of how many actual sales are taking place.
“If you’ve been unemployed for years, if you’re on food stamps and you’ve had trouble getting by, I can totally see you being very economically desperate,” Colas said. “I don’t think a lot of people sell their kidneys. I do think a lot of people in desperation do that search to say, ‘If worse comes to worst what could I do?’”
Thousands of dollars
Atlanta resident April Hare, 35, first thought of selling her hair after more than two years of unemployment, while facing eviction.
“I was just trying to find ways to make money, and I remembered Jo from Little Women, and she sold her hair,” Hare said. “I’ve always had lots of hair, but this is the first time I’ve actually had the idea to sell it because I’m in a really tight jam right now.”
Within hours of posting a picture of her 18-inch auburn hair to buyandsellhair.com, Hare received replies from several people offering at least $1,000. Looking for more ways to support her 4-month-old son and 7-year-old daughter, Hare then investigated the possibility of selling her breast milk, which can fetch up to $5 per ounce online.
Shady Grove Fertility Center, which has offices in several states, has also seen a dramatic increase in women looking to sell their eggs – a 13 percent jump since 2012, according to marketing assistant supervisor Ali Williams. The fertility center pays egg donors at nearly every step of the process, with the total payment coming out to $7,000 for the first egg donation cycle, up to $7,500 for the second and $8,000 for each successive cycle up to a maximum of six.
According to the center’s surveys, 65 percent of applicants cite financial reasons as one of their motives for pursuing egg donation. Yet even more of them – 73 percent – also cite altruism.
“It is more than cutting your hair and even donating blood,” Williams said. “The process can take a few months. So if you don’t have that altruistic motivation, if you’re just doing it for money, you’re probably not going to get through the process.”
Only 3 percent of applicants are accepted.
With median household income still falling and the unemployment rate hovering near 7 percent, interest in selling body parts will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
“These are tough times,” Hare said. “The rich are getting richer and everybody else is losing their jobs and their homes. It’s just terrible.”
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This article was posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 4:29 am