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Understanding parental gender preferences in advanced societies: Lessons from Sweden and Finland

Author

Listed:
  • Gunnar Andersson

    (Stockholms Universitet)

  • Karsten Hank

    (Universität zu Köln)

  • Andres Vikat

    (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE))

Abstract

Extending recent research on parental gender preferences in the Nordic countries, this study uses unique register data from Finland and Sweden (1971-1999) that provide us with the opportunity to compare childbearing dynamics and possible underlying sex preferences among natives and national minorities, namely Finnish-born immigrants in Sweden and members of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. Moreover, our Swedish data allow us to investigate regional and educational differences in child-sex specific fertility behavior of two-child mothers in 1981-1999. For Finland, we observe a continuous boy preference among the national majority and the Swedish-speaking minority as reflected in higher third-birth rates of mothers of two girls than of mothers of two boys. Evidence of similar preferences is found for Finnish-born migrants in Sweden, where the native-born population appears to have developed a girl preference, though. In all cases, we also observe clear indications of a preference for having at least one child of each sex. Generally speaking, our findings support an interpretation of parental gender preferences as a longstanding cultural phenomenon, related to country of childhood socialization rather than language group. Our analysis of regional and educational differentials in Sweden reveals no evidence which supports diffusion theories of persistence and change in parents’ sex preferences for children.

Suggested Citation

  • Gunnar Andersson & Karsten Hank & Andres Vikat, 2007. "Understanding parental gender preferences in advanced societies: Lessons from Sweden and Finland," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 17(6), pages 135-156, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:17:y:2007:i:6
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    File URL: https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol17/6/17-6.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gunnar Andersson & Karsten Hank & Marit Rønsen & Andres Vikat, 2006. "Gendering family composition: Sex preferences for children and childbearing behavior in the Nordic countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 255-267, May.
    2. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    3. Gunnar Andersson & Jan M. Hoem & Ann-Zofie Duvander, 2006. "Social differentials in speed-premium effects in childbearing in Sweden," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 14(4), pages 51-70, January.
    4. Seidl, Christian, 1995. "The Desire for a Son Is the Father of Many Daughters: A Sex Ratio Paradox," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 8(2), pages 185-203, May.
    5. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 10281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jan Saarela & Fjalar Finnäs, 2014. "Sex composition of children, parental separation, and parity progression: Is Finland a Nordic outlier?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(2), pages 49-70, January.
    2. Gunnar Andersson & Kirk Scott, 2007. "Childbearing dynamics of couples in a universalistic welfare state: the role of labor-market status, country of origin, and gender," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2007-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility; Finland; sex preferences; Sweden;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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