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Development, Modernization, and Childbearing: The Role of Family Sex Composition

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  • Deon Filmer
  • Jed Friedman
  • Norbert Schady

Abstract

Does the sex composition of existing children in a family affect fertility behavior? An unusually large data set, covering 64 countries and some 5 million births, is used to show that fertility behavior responds to the presence--or absence--of sons in many regions of the developing world. The response to the absence of sons is particularly large in Central Asia and South Asia. Modernization does not appear to reduce this differential response. For example, in South Asia the fertility response to the absence of sons is larger for women with more education and has been increasing over time. The explanation appears to be that a latent demand for sons is more likely to manifest itself when fertility levels are low. As a result of this differential fertility behavior, girls tend to grow up with significantly more siblings than do boys, with potential implications for their well-being when quantity--quality tradeoffs result in fewer material and emotional resources allocated to children in larger families. Copyright The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Deon Filmer & Jed Friedman & Norbert Schady, 2009. "Development, Modernization, and Childbearing: The Role of Family Sex Composition," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(3), pages 371-398, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:23:y:2009:i:3:p:371-398
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    Cited by:

    1. Seema Jayachandran, 2017. "Fertility Decline and Missing Women," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 118-139, January.
    2. Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Why are adult women missing ? son preference and maternal survival in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6802, The World Bank.
    3. Carranza, Eliana, 2012. "Islamic inheritance law, son preference and fertility behavior of Muslim couples in Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5972, The World Bank.
    4. Grogan, Louise, 2013. "Household formation rules, fertility and female labour supply: Evidence from post-communist countries," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 1167-1183.
    5. KUEPIE Mathias & TENIKUE Michel, 2012. "The effect of the number of siblings on education in sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from a natural experiment," LISER Working Paper Series 2012-28, LISER.
    6. Tom Vogl, 2012. "Marriage Institutions and Sibling Competition: Evidence from South Asia," NBER Working Papers 18319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Onur Altindag, 2016. "Son Preference, Fertility Decline, and the Nonmissing Girls of Turkey," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(2), pages 541-566, April.

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