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Hidden Consequences of a First-Born Boy for Mothers

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  • Ichino, Andrea

    ()
    (European University Institute)

  • Lindström, Elly-Ann

    ()
    (IFAU)

  • Viviano, Eliana

    ()
    (Bank of Italy)

Abstract

We show that in the US, the UK, Italy and Sweden women whose first child is a boy are less likely to work in a typical week and work fewer hours than women with first-born girls. The puzzle is why women in these countries react in this way to the sex of their first child, which is chosen randomly by nature. We consider two explanations. As Dahl and Moretti (2008) we show that first-born boys positively affect the probability that a marriage survives, but differently from them and from the literature on developing countries, we show that after a first-born boy the probability that women have more children increases. In these advanced economies the negative impact on fertility deriving from the fact that fewer pregnancies are needed to get a boy is more than compensated by the positive effect on fertility deriving from the greater stability of marriages, which is neglected by studies that focus on married women only.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5649.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5649

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Keywords: preference for sons; female labour supply; mothers’ behaviour;

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References

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  1. Jayachandran, Seema & Kuziemko, Ilyana, 2009. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," CEPR Discussion Papers 7321, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Elizabeth O. Ananat & Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income Distribution of Women with Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 611-629.
  3. Kelly Bedard & Olivier Deschênes, 2005. "Sex Preferences, Marital Dissolution, and the Economic Status of Women," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
  4. Alexander M. Gelber, 2010. "Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women," 2010 Meeting Papers 1031, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Donald Cox, 2007. "Biological Basics and the Economics of the Family," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 91-108, Spring.
  6. Hyunbae Chun & Jeungil Oh, 2002. "An instrumental variable estimate of the effect of fertility on the labour force participation of married women," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(10), pages 631-634.
  7. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
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Cited by:
  1. Karbownik, Krzysztof & Myck, Michal, 2012. "For Some Mothers More Than Others: How Children Matter for Labour Market Outcomes When Both Fertility and Female Employment Are Low," IZA Discussion Papers 6933, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. P. Rupert & G. Zanella, 2014. "Grandchildren and Their Grandparents’ Labor Supply," Working Papers wp937, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.

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