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Does Child Gender Affect Marital Status?

  • Andrew Leigh

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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File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP526.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 526.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: May 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:526
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  1. Ananat, Elizabeth O. & Michaels, Guy, 2007. "The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income Distribution of Women with Children," CEPR Discussion Papers 6228, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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 1141-87, December.
  3. Andrew Leigh, 2006. "Does Child Gender Affect Marital Status?," CEPR Discussion Papers 526, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  4. Ben-Porath, Yoram & Welch, Finis, 1976. "Do Sex Preferences Really Matter?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 285-307, May.
  5. 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).
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
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