Designer American babies for the Chinese elite

Also known as “markets in everything”:

Wealthy Chinese are hiring American women to serve as surrogates for their children, creating a small but growing business in $120,000 “designer” American babies for China’s elite.

Surrogacy agencies in China and the United States are catering to wealthy Chinese who want a baby outside the country’s restrictive family planning policies, who are unable to conceive themselves, or who are seeking U.S. citizenship for their children.

Emigration as a family is another draw – U.S. citizens may apply for Green Cards for their parents when they turn 21.

The story is here, and for the pointer I thank Fred Smalkin.


Here's a Chinese birth tourism's site explaining the eight main benefits of giving birth in America:

But don't worry, America being about as hard to get into as George Mason U. (rather than, say, Harvard) just shows how awesome America is.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

Yeah, I think academia is wrong about everything they do on purpose.

Where is PA for this comment?

Steve is being a meanie - Dante reserved the lowest circle of hell for guests who abuse their hosts. Steve, Macbeth, and 13 million "undocumented" visitors.

What fraction of the Chinese population has the kind of scratch to blow on something like this?

More interesting is the question of why such an elite slice of the population is willing to go to such lengths to buy this particular hedge. What do they really think about the future of the Chinese economy? Hard to say.

Let's say China's got two more real doublings coming in the next 21 years (the green card period). Maybe US Citizenship for their kid is worth the opportunity cost to real - so, not $120K, but half a million?

This is really interesting, countries where you get citizenship by birth:

I really want to know the story of how the world got ended up like this. When it happened? Around independence time in early 1800s? The citizenship by birth is only an American (the whole continent) custom and law. For most of Europe the child gets the nationality if one of the parents is a citizen or at least a long time legal resident. The elephant in the room: all Asia. They're kind of racist if you give it a little thought.

Talking to one illegal mexican resident once (yeah, one point measurement sorry) I asked to him why they were so worried about getting US citizenship. His answer was not free education, good healthcare, reliable public services neither freedom of speech or a less violent life. It was more simple: "If you're a citizen police can't deport you if you get in some trouble with them. We can keep working and earning good money". So, the story was an stereotype, mexicans get drunk, speed on highways, make nosiy parties, figths with the police, low level drug dealing. The way police reacted to this was trying to scare mexicans with deportation instead of doing their work trough fines or jailtime. Mexicans reaction and/or unintended consequence? They had babies in US soil, so they can forget about the ghost of deportation. Sorry for the archetypical story but that's what I heard. Your average illegal cook or gardener is not plotting to get free education for the children, they just want to have a better income than in Mexico.

Perhaps the US system is not in an optimal situation right now. It may change the law on the Jus Soli principle and adopt the Europe system of easy to get work permits but almost impossible citizenship. In the end what people want is to work in peace, not a nationality. You open the borders to all the workers you need, but the responsability is transferred from the US goverment to the parents of kids who have no citizenship.

Another way to measure the monetary value of American citizenship is to look at Indian marriage market ads: how much does the dowry go up depending on man's possession of various privileges related to living in America (H-1B, Green Card, Citizenship). This would be an excellent study for economists to do.

Surrogacy may be the way the Chinese get around that lack of women problem they have due to their selective abortions of female fetuses.

Way to go, America. This is one job Americans will do: rent wombs to rich foreigners.

Not only that, it's an ideal fit for twentysomething humanities grads.

But I'm sure that the number of Chinese babies exported to the U.S. far outnumbers the number of babies born through this process.

Further to my above comment, I wonder what the percentage of boy babies born to these surrogates is.

I don't think that surrogacy is ideal for a female grad student; it's risky and time consuming. They need to take hormones to induce ovulation, etc.

They probably transport the eggs from China to cheap labor surrogates in the US. They don't care who "houses" the fetus as long as she doesn't smoke or take drugs; she's not the genetic mother.

Wow, remember when feminists yowled about the commodification of the female body, with respect to Playboy, etc.? What about this?

And what about regulation? Aren't liberals in favor of regulating everything? Why not this?

Yeah, those married couples really avoid the gender imbalance like that

What's crazy is that if this (probably hugely exaggerated) story is to be believed, these folks are paying $120k for immigration status that might be useful years in the future _and_we_give_it_away_for_free_all_the_time_.

Assume for a moment that there are economic gains from the immigration of some subset of immigrants. As the only makers of American immigration slots, Americans could charge a monopoly price for those immigration slots and have the benefits of the trade accrue to the people with the asset and not be distributed randomly and inefficiently to lottery winners (effectively and literally in some cases). If this isn't a problem crying out for a market and a price, I don't know what is. And before you get all caught up with "but with a price, then anyone could come in," there's no reason why you'd need to charge everyone the same price, or supply any quantity demanded. Presumably newly minted chemistry PhDs would rationally be given a better deal than 55 year-old diabetic laborers. Presumably you'd rationally set the price to meet demand at a level you were comfortable with.

I was an immigrant, now naturalized, and I would have *gladly* paid $100k to get US citizenship. It is not free for Europeans at all, it is almost impossible to emigrate legally from Europe to the US, except if you win the green card lottery, P like winning the Powerball. From Mexico, yes, but those immigrants are a privileged class of people.

Europeans just have to have babies in the US and then parents can get a green card when the child is age 21.

"Europeans just have to have babies "

They seem to have gotten out of the habit of doing that, period.

I read a story about a French couple who ran a great B&B somewhere in New England. They were about to be deported; all of the locals supported them and they got an extension. I lost the trail of the story and don't know what happened. I kept thinking, "Have a baby dammit."

It would be doubly ironic if they employed labor from, uh, south of the border who are merrily having babies, all courtesy of the local Catholic church. When I lived upstate NY in the early 2000s, the biggest employer of the "undocumented" was the local Catholic church, which was and is a huge landowner and consequently needed tons of help. The old white demographic was shrinking and without the Mexicans they would disappear.

> I was an immigrant, now naturalized

So was I. I completely don't understand why this stuff is given away for free; I'm doubly appalled that some libertarians argue for this, as it seems like the exact opposite of normal libertarian thinking. Citizens created a club that other people want membership in. It's perfectly sensible and ethical for them to charge for that, and to select whatever kind of new members they want, via whatever process they want. They may as well use a process that makes sense for them.

"If you're good at something, never do it for free."

If a foreigner adopts an American citizen (child or adult), would he then be free to immigrate to America to be united with his adopted American child?

Per the linked story: "Emigration as a family is another draw - U.S. citizens may apply for Green Cards for their parents when they turn 21."

"these folks are paying $120k for immigration status that might be useful years in the future _and_we_give_it_away_for_free_all_the_time_."

Excellent point. There should be a market for immigration slots. And we all should benefit. Right now the vast majority of slots are rewarded on the basis of nepotism. That means that the descendants of Revolutionary soldiers or Civil War vets or even Ellis-Island era immigrants, people whose ancestors helped build up this country, have zero say in who gets admitted, and don't benefit financially at all.

My solution would be to set up a quasi-market, where every citizen who works and pays taxes would get a fractional 'immigration credit'. The could accumulate such credits, trade them, sell them, or use them (likely having to acquire more credits from others) to sponsor anyone they wanted.

Of course this still leaves the question of how many credits to grant each year, how much to charge to sponsor one individual, etc.

Interesting story, but why provide a link to "Baby Center News" instead of directing that traffic to Reuters, who did all the work (the byline reads "by Alexandra Harney", and not "by Baby Center News"). Finding the original Reuters article took me about 3 seconds:

Here is another definition and information about companies actively soliciting for birth tourism:

From the linked article, "2. You are to the environment, education, the United States is the world's most powerful countries, children are entitled to attend the next U.S. public elementary school to high school, completely free tuition"

But I thought American elementary and high schools sucked?

Not in communities the Chinese have picked out, like Arcadia, CA, east of Pasadena. Shocking as it may sound, public schools full of affluent Chinese kids do fine: public Arcadia HS has about 30 National Merit Scholars per year.

Eliminate the majority-minority schools, and we are quite competitive. That's the Gap everybody has been talking about for, oh, the past couple of decades.

Do you really not know how this works? You look at the data on the schools, eliminate the ones w/ majority in EASL programs, subsidized lunch, etc. Select among the good ones, then buy a house in the desired district. Homebuying 101.

There are plenty of Chinese able to plunk down three to five hundred K, which is the going rate for higher-g white/Asian neighbors.

How quickly do these Chinese parents make back the $120,000 by not paying taxes or fraudulently applying for loans?

Tyler seems to have been taken in by race baiting. No stats except for the one agency where they had 6 cases in 5 years, less than 1% of the already small number of foreign surrogacy cases. It all hinges on the president of the agency expecting the rate to go up.


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