The city of Urayasu, Japan is offering its women a unique and expensive perk in an attempt to solve Japan’s looming population crisis — egg freezing.
Freezing eggs has become a popular fertility treatment in the U.S. where it is offered to military service women as well as to employees at tech companies like Facebook and Apple as a job perk.
Over the next three years, a university hospital in Urayasu will cover the majority of the cost of egg freezing for eligible women ages 24 to 35. Women will still have to pay 20% of the cost, which is still equivalent to $2,000. According to SCMP, around a dozen women have already accepted the city’s offer.
Women’s fertility dramatically drops near the age of 40 as the eggs become fewer and weaker with age. While there is no medical guarantee whatsoever, freezing eggs is toted as a biological clock stopper and recommended by fertility experts for women over the age of 30 who have not found a suitable partner or the financial means to raise a child.
An American Society for Reproductive Medicine report estimates that one frozen egg has a 2-12% chance of leading to a baby even in younger women. A 2015 study, however, found that the live birth rate out of a sample of 2,227 frozen eggs was 43.2%, comparable to the 49.6% live birth rate from fresh eggs in an IVF cycle.
Earlier this year, Japan’s population census reported the first population drop in modern history — the 2010 census reported a population of 128,057,352 while in February 2016, the population was reported as 127,110,000.