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Are simple tests of son preference useful? An evaluation using data from Vietnam


  • Jonathan Haughton

    (Department of Economics, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114, USA (Fax)

  • Dominique Haughton

    (Department of Mathematical Sciences, Bentley College, Waltham, MA 02154, USA)


Son preference is widespread although not universal. Where it occurs it may lead to higher fertility rates. Ideally son preference should be measured in the context of a hazards or parity progression model of fertility, or a logistic model of contraceptive use. Such models require large amounts of survey data, particularly to measure the covariates. Can son preference be discerned reliably using tests which rely on more limited information? The answer is yes, based on applying eight simple tests to data from the Vietnam Living Standards Survey of 1992-93 and comparing the outcomes with the benchmark results from fuller models. Some, but not all, of the simpler tests accurately measure son preference, including estimating a simple hazards or progression parity model, the unisex sibship test, and the sibling differentials test.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:11:y:1998:i:4:p:495-516
    Note: Received: 28 September 1995 / Accepted: 2 January 1997

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    Cited by:

    1. Mussa, Richard, 2009. "Impact of fertility on objective and subjective poverty in Malawi," MPRA Paper 16089, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Lefebvre, Pierre, 2006. "Discrimination sexuelle dans les dépenses des ménages : survol de la littérature et évidences empiriques pour le Canada," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 82(1), pages 119-153, mars-juin.
    3. Tien Manh Vu, 2012. "The lexicographic preference for a son: evidence from household data in Vietnam," OSIPP Discussion Paper 12E001, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University.
    4. Wataru Kureishi & Midori Wakabayashi, 2011. "Son preference in Japan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(3), pages 873-893, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Karsten Hank & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2002. "Gender preferences for children revisited: new evidence from Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-017, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

    More about this item


    Vietnam · son preference;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


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