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Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?

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  • Francine D. Blau
  • Lawrence Kahn
  • Peter Brummund
  • Jason B. Cook
  • Miriam Larson-Koester

Abstract

In this paper, we use 2008-2013 American Community Survey data to update and further probe evidence on son preference in the United States. In light of the substantial increase in immigration, we examine this question separately for natives and immigrants. Dahl and Moretti (2008) found earlier evidence consistent with son preference in that having a female first child raised fertility and increased the probability that the family was living without a father. We find that for our more recent period, having a female first child still raises the likelihood of living without a father, but is instead associated with lower fertility, particularly for natives. Thus, by the 2008-2013 period, any apparent son preference in fertility decisions appears to have been outweighed by factors such as cost concerns in raising girls or increased female bargaining power. In contrast, some evidence for son preference in fertility persists among immigrants. Immigrant families that have a female first child have significantly higher fertility and are more likely to be living without a father (though not significantly so). Further, gender inequity in source countries is associated with son preference in fertility among immigrants. For both first and second generation immigrants, the impact of a female first-born on fertility is more pronounced for immigrants from source countries with less gender equity. Finally, we find no evidence of sex selection for the general population of natives and immigrants, suggesting that it does not provide an alternative mechanism to account for the disappearance of a positive fertility effect for natives.

Suggested Citation

  • Francine D. Blau & Lawrence Kahn & Peter Brummund & Jason B. Cook & Miriam Larson-Koester, 2019. "Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7948, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7948
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2017-11-24 00:31:33
    2. Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2019-11-28 12:42:33

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    2. Moffitt, Robert A. & Ribar, David C., 2018. "Child age and gender differences in food security in a low-income U.S. inner-city population," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 23-41.
    3. Myck, Michal & Oczkowska, Monika & Wowczko, Izabela, 2021. "Gender Preferences in Central and Eastern Europe as Reflected in Partnership and Fertility Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 14244, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    5. Mireia Borrell-Porta & Joan Costa-Font & Julia Philipp, 2019. "The ‘mighty girl’ effect: does parenting daughters alter attitudes towards gender norms?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 25-46.
    6. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," CHILD Working Papers Series 60 JEL Classification: I1, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
    7. Anne (A.C.) Gielen & Esmee Zwiers, 2018. "Biology and the gender gap in educational performance - The role of prenatal testosterone in test scores," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-086/V, Tinbergen Institute.
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    10. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Matthew Comey & Amanda Eng & Pamela Meyerhofer & Alexander Willén, 2020. "Culture and gender allocation of tasks: source country characteristics and the division of non-market work among US immigrants," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 907-958, December.
    11. Joanne Haddad, 2022. "Settlers and Norms," Working Papers ECARES 2022-02, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Robitaille, Marie-Claire & Milla, Joniada, 2022. "Son Targeting Fertility Behavior in Albania," IZA Discussion Papers 15122, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Anna Raute & Andrea Weber & Galina Zudenkova, 2022. "Can public policy increase paternity acknowledgment? Evidence from earnings-related parental leave," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 2206, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    14. Duan Huiqiong & Hicks Daniel L., 2020. "New evidence on son preference among immigrant households in the United States," IZA Journal of Development and Migration, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 11(1), pages 1-28, January.
    15. Scott Drewianka & Martin E. Meder, 2020. "Simultaneity and selection in financial hardship and divorce," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1245-1265, December.
    16. Eleanor Jawon Choi & Jisoo Hwang, 2020. "Transition of Son Preference: Evidence From South Korea," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 57(2), pages 627-652, April.
    17. Kelly Bedard & Allison Witman, 2020. "Family structure and the gender gap in ADHD," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1101-1129, December.
    18. Van Effenterre, Clémentine, 2017. "Papa Does Preach: Daughters and Polarisation of Attitudes toward Abortion," IZA Discussion Papers 11177, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. Cools, Angela & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2017. "Sibling Gender Composition and Women's Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 11001, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Bansak, Cynthia & Jiang, Xuan & Yang, Guanyi, 2020. "Sibling Spillover in Rural China: A Story of Sisters and Daughters," IZA Discussion Papers 13127, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    21. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2018. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial," Working Papers 2018-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    22. Baranov, Victoria & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Biroli, Pietro & Maselko, Joanna, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women's Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 11187, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    23. William Jergins, 2021. "Culture and son preference: Evidence from immigrants to the United States," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 88(1), pages 168-198, July.
    24. Nahid Tavassoli, 2021. "The Gender-Biased Fertility Behavior: Evidence from Southeast Asian Countries," Economic Alternatives, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria, issue 2, pages 235-261, July.
    25. Van Effenterre, Clémentine, 2020. "Papa does preach: Daughters and polarization of attitudes toward abortion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 188-201.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; son preference; family structure; fertility; sex selection; immigrants;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • 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
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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