China gives new parents incentive to pass on mother’s surname

By Efrosini Costa

China gives new parents incentive to pass on mother’s surname
Chinese newborns who are given the mother's maiden name receive cash bonus.

It’s no secret that China’s one-child policy has fuelled a traditional preference for baby boys over girls.

Sex-selective abortions, female infanticide and the abandonment of baby girls have been some of the side effects of such a strict family-planning law.

The traditional preference for boys, that take on the father’s surname and ensure the continuation of it’s existence into subsequent generations, has resulted in a massive population gender imbalance.

China has tens of millions more males than females, with nearly 118 male births for every 100 females recorded in 2012. Many men are unable to find brides and this has led to a rise in the trafficking of women from Southeast Asia into the country.

Daughters are often regarded as more of a liability for their parents as they have to provide a dowry on marriage. They also go to live with their husband’s family and so are less able to guarantee care of their parents in old age.

Now officials are trying out an unusual approach to address this dilemma – offering cash rewards to parents who opt to give their newborns the mother’s surname – as married women keep their maiden names in China.

The ‘surname reform’ plan may sound unconventional but it is believed close to 30 couples have already volunteered.

Officials in Changfeng county in the eastern province of Anhui, were there are 130 boys for every 100 girls, are giving 1,000 yuan (AUS$174) to willing participants.

“Our goal is to promote an idea — for families to give their newborn child the surname of whoever they want,” Gong Cunbing, deputy director of the county population and family planning committee, told  Jianghuai Morning Post.

What do you think of this surname reform plan? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.


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