Birth-tourism is an act of travelling to another country to give birth there in order for your newborn child to become a citizen of that country. This is a consequence of something called "jus soli". Both the US and Canada do unconditionally grant citizenship to anyone born on their soil (except when they don't, such as for children of foreign diplomats).

However, every time I hear about a real life example of this happening, those mothers tend to target the US, but not Canada. But why is that so?

Isn't Canada also a pretty good nation? Besides, the US does have its downsides when compared to Canada, such as taxing its citizens worldwide, regardless of their country of residence (which may become a problem for the child later in life).

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    Can you please provide any evidence that birth tourism targets the US more than it does Canada?
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:35
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    I would imagine that most birth tourists come from countries to the south of the USA and only a small minority of them continue North to Canada. However, you are likely influenced by the availability heuristic; depending where you get your news you may be far more likely to hear about such cases from the USA regardless of whether it has more cases than Canada.
    – user16259
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 12:33
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    "I would imagine that most birth tourists come from countries to the south of the USA" Most of the ones I hear about are from countries to the west of the US -- e.g. China and other Asian countries. Illegal immigrants from countries south of the US might happen to have children while living in the US, but they are not birth "tourists".
    – user102008
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 15:44
  • Maybe a better fit on Politics.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


This question hardly has anything to do with Expats but I'll toss out an opinion before I vote to close.

The United States has a far larger GDP, range of climates, variety of sub-cultures, many levels of education and more numerous, and many many more population centers. All that translates to far more opportunity to live the kind of life that many in the Western world would like to live. Nothing's guaranteed ofcourse. There aren't as many safety nets in the U.S. as in many European countries (or Canada) for example, but the potential quality of life, especially for those who are hard-working, a bit skilled, and a bit clever, is far higher than anywhere else in the world. Further, realistically speaking, this looks to be the case for many decades to come.

Cananda is a lovely country. They have strong trading/culture partner and a powerful military ally right next door with whom relations are historically superb. But it is a widely dispersed population and rather homogenous as far as opportunity is concerned.

Plus Canada just hasn't had the cultural reach and impact that the United States has had. When people think of, even considering only as a wild possibility, the idea of attempting something like birth tourism, I'm not sure how many of them would even briefly acknowledge Canada much less realize that such a thing was possible with that country. You'd have to have been living under a rock for the last seventy years to not know this was possible with the U.S. (due to Hollywood and word of mouth).

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    This is indeed opinion based, as evidenced by the fact that I strongly disagree with most of your second paragraph, in particular your claim that the potential quality of life for hard-working people would be higher than elsewhere in the world. I'd argue that for most hard-working people it's not at all higher than in most other western countries. You've got your facts wrong, too. Canada "homogeneous"?! Toronto is the most diverse city in the world, with more than 50% born outside Canada. I also question the claim in the question, btw.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:34
  • BTW, Canada far outranks the USA in Forbes best countries to do business list, so there really isn't any substance to your "opportunity" claims. And one reason the US GDP appears so inflated is because of the overpricing of anything medical. GDP is a very poor measure for just about anything. The idea that Americans are richer than people in other western countries is a myth, although a myth may be good enough to answer the OP question, if US does indeed see more birth tourism than Canada.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 10:51
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    @gernt, I wouldn't take it to seriously. It is a highly opinionated and it's only going to generate opinionated answers. Canada is a wonderful country. I've treasured my visits and my experiences with a few very close friends. I think it's great that you and others would try to defend Canada against the realities of the economic, military, and cultural might of the United States when a question like this comes up. I would do the same. At the end of the day, there are some facts that kind of have to shape your opinions though, however strongly you might to hold them dear.
    – ouflak
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 14:31
  • @Toronto is a great place, and I wouldn't mind living the rest of my days there if the opportunity came up, but it's hardly representative of all of Canada. And the OP's question was why there isn't a significant occurrence of birth tourism as there appears to be in the U.S. (this might be debatable). I'm pretty sure anyone would have to admit that if someone was really hatching such a scheme, the U.S. would be the first country to come to mind. Not because of business reasons or Forbes lists, but because of perceived opportunities, perceptions backed by considerable and measurable realities.
    – ouflak
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 14:35
  • Let's agree that perceptions are more important than reality in this case, such that we can drop the discussion on reality. The US certainly has the reputation of the "land of opportunity", deserved or not. Whether the US really have more "birth tourism" per capita than Canada I really don't know.
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 14:47

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