Tough economic conditions, and the spiralling cost of living, has forced Chinese to turn their backs on decades of tradition of preference for male children. Even as China's one-child policy has produced a calamitous glut of men, the huge cost of raising a son has meant that for many families, daughters now make more economic sense. A government survey of almost 3,500 prospective parents in Shanghai showed that more than 15 per cent preferred a girl while only 12 per cent wanted a boy. While sons continue to be seen as more valuable in the countryside because they are seen to be traditionally responsible for taking care of parents in old age, the trend is being reversed in urban China, the Daily Telegraph reported today. The surge in cost of living in urban China has also helped diminish the appeal for the male child. Buying a new house for a newly married son is a ruinous expense in many cities, with property prices in China's major centres having soared by as much as 60 per cent between 2007 and 2008, and are expected to further rise by another 10 per cent this year, the report said. 32-year-old Yang Min, an expectant mother in Shanghai, made her preference for a girl child clear. "Although I prefer boys, there are endless things to worry about, such as finding him a good school, helping him get a good job, and buying a house and a car for him. It's just too much trouble," she rationalised.
Zheng Zizhen, the director of the Institute of Sociology and Population at the Guangdong Academy of Social Science, pointed out that families in areas such as Guangdong, which was one of the first regions on the path of modernisation in the Communist nation, have seen more pragmatic approach towards dowries and house purchases. "As China develops, traditional practices will eventually fade away," he said. "When that happens, there will be a preference for daughters generally because it is the women that stand by the bed and care for you in old age, not the men," he underlined.