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Maternal Longevity and the Sex of Offspring: Evidence from Pre-Industrial Sweden


Author Info

  • Cesarini, David

    (Department of Economics, MIT)

  • Lindqvist, Erik

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)

  • Wallace, Björn

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)


Helle et al. (2002) used data from Finnish parish records to study the cost of bearing sons vis-à-vis daughters in terms of postmenopausal longevity and found a large and significant cost associated with sons. In this paper, we replicate and extend their analysis on a larger dataset of pre-modern Swedish women and find no evidence of a negative relative impact of sons. Neither do we find any evidence for the resource competition hypothesis put forth by Van de Putte et al. (2004), despite the relative poverty of our study population. This suggests that the effects found in Helle et al. (2002) were not a general feature of life in pre-modern populations. Finally, we raise some concerns regarding the methodology used and inferences made in previous studies on the topic.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm School of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance with number 651.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: 26 Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published as Cesarini, David, Erik Lindqvist and Björn Wallace, 'Maternal Longevity and the Sex of Offspring: Evidence from Pre-Industrial Sweden' in Annals of Human Biology, 2007, pages 535-546.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0651

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Keywords: maternal longevity; sons; demography;

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