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Gender Preferences for Children in Europe


  • Karsten Hank

    (Universität Mannheim)

  • Hans-Peter Kohler

    (University of Pennsylvania)


Gender preferences may have substantial implications for a couple’s fertility behavior. However, there is only limited empirical research investigating this subject in modern Western societies. In this paper, data from the Fertility and Family Surveys are used to compare 17 European countries with respect to their gender preferences for children. Despite substantial regional heterogeneity across Europe, our results show a strong tendency towards a preference for a mixed sex composition (if there is any preference at all). However, we found some unexpected indication for a girl preference in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Portugal. Because socioeconomic conditions and family policies, which are important factors in explaining different fertility levels, are not related to a specific gender of children, we argue that cultural factors are of major importance for different gender preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Karsten Hank & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2000. "Gender Preferences for Children in Europe," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 2(1), January.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:2:y:2000:i:1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Haughton & Dominique Haughton, 1998. "Are simple tests of son preference useful? An evaluation using data from Vietnam," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(4), pages 495-516.
    2. Rodolfo Bulatao, 1981. "Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, February.
    3. Hilke Brockmann, 1999. "Girls preferred? Changing patterns of gender preferences in the two German states," MPIDR Working Papers WP-1999-010, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    More about this item


    cross-national research; fertility; gender preferences;

    JEL classification:

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


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