Column: Would you prefer to live somewhere else?

Ask yourself: Does where you live really affect your overall happiness?

Last month, U.S. federal agents discovered “birth tourism” rings in California. They found out houses and complexes where pregnant Chinese women were waiting to give birth to their babies in order for their babies to be born as U.S. citizens.

This is not exactly shocking news to me. Being from Hong Kong, I am familiar with the fact that pregnant mainland Chinese women often come to Hong Kong to give birth to their babies. The reason of doing that is very similar to why they want to have their child born in America; they want their children to enjoy the benefits of life and obtain a better living situation eventually. A lot of pregnant mainland Chinese women go to Hong Kong with a visitor visa and give birth before the visa date expires. They do that because their child will be given free education for up to 12 years as a social welfare, according to the Hong Kong Education Bureau.

I cannot help but think about how desperate these Chinese parents must be to have their future generation to be born outside of mainland China. They are willing to pay millions of dollars in order for their babies to obtain a green card in the United States. Is it really that bad in China for them that they do not care to travel all the way to America while they were pregnant? There are several reasons why they wanted to give birth to their child elsewhere: The one-child policy in China only allows them to give birth to one child without paying a penalty, and the living situation is not good in many places in China.

I also recall seeing a report in 2013 on the living situations all around the world, called “the where-to-be-born index.” While China sits at No. 49 out of 80 countries, Hong Kong and the United States are ranked at 10th and 16th, respectively, and Switzerland is the No. 1 place to be born in. It is an interesting thought about how parents can now choose a place to give birth for their future generation. This says a lot about a country, its living standard and quality of life.

Does this mean people living in Switzerland are happier than people living elsewhere? Are you happy living here in the States? How would you improve your life? Would you choose work hard and get out and live in another country? It is never too early or too late to think about the future of yourself or your later generation.

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