Incidence of surrogacy in the USA and Israel and implications on women’s health: a quantitative comparison

Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Piero Montebruno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Gestational surrogacy (GS) has been researched in multiple qualitative studies. In contrast, quantitative aspects of the practice are conspicuously understudied. The present article assesses and compares the incidence of GS in the USA and Israel, two industrialized countries that have maintained active commercial surrogacy practice, for over two decades. Method: The article is a secondary analysis of GS figures published by the Israeli Parliament’s Centre for Research and Information (2018) and by the USA’s Centers for Disease Control (2016) and related professional publications. Each dataset is analyzed in reference to the respective country, so as to devise local incidence scores that are then juxtaposed in inter-country comparison. Results: The incidence of GS rises steeply in both countries. Though US surrogates are contracted by local and international, heterosexual and gay, and partnered and single intended parents, the relative incidence of GS is lower in the USA than in Israel, where only local heterosexual couples could contract a gestational surrogate. An exceptionally high rate of multiple births was observed in both settings, suggesting some overlooking of professional recommendations for elective single-embryo transfer. Conclusion: GS incidence appears to resemble the ratio between the countries’ respective fertility rates. The paper underscores two main risks facing gestational surrogates: the risk of not conceiving and not being paid and the risk of carrying a multiple pregnancy, which is extremely prevalent in GS pregnancies, and sustaining the short- and long-term health complications that are more prevalent in such pregnancies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2459-2469
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Gestational surrogacy
  • Israel
  • USA
  • incidence
  • multiple births
  • quantitative assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology


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