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Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia

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  • Andrew Leigh

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Abstract

Pooling microdata from five Australian censuses, I explore the relationship between child gender and divorce. By contrast with the United States, I find no evidence that the gender of the first child has a significant impact on the decision to marry or divorce. However, among two-child families, parents with two children of the same sex are 1.7 percentage points less likely to be married than parents with a boy and a girl. Surveys of parental attitudes suggest that this effect is more likely to be driven by fathers than by mothers. This finding is not consistent with theories of preference for sons over daughters, differential costs, role models or complementary costs, but is consistent with a theory of parity preference.
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Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 351-366, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:22:y:2009:i:2:p:351-366
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-007-0168-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yoram Ben-Porath & Finis Welch, 1976. "Do Sex Preferences Really Matter?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(2), pages 285-307.
    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. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 351-366, April.
    4. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-1187, December.
    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.
    6. 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).
    7. Lundberg, Shelly, 2005. "The Division of Labor by New Parents: Does Child Gender Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 1787, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 351-366, April.
    2. Barış Yörük, 2012. "Do fundraisers select charitable donors based on gender and race? Evidence from survey data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(1), pages 219-243, January.
    3. Kabátek, Jan & Ribar, David C., 2017. "Teenage Daughters as a Cause of Divorce," IZA Discussion Papers 11046, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Moschion, Julie & van Ours, Jan C., 2017. "Do Childhood Experiences of Parental Separation Lead to Homelessness?," CEPR Discussion Papers 11946, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Julie Moschion, 2013. "The Impact of Fertility on Mothers' Labour Supply in Australia: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(286), pages 319-338, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Marriage; Divorce; Daughters; Sons; J12; J13;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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