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Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers

Author

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  • Ichino, Andrea
  • Lindström, Elly-Ann
  • Viviano, Eliana

Abstract

We show that in the US, the UK, Italy and Sweden women whose first child is a boy are less likely to work in a typical week and work fewer hours than women with first-born girls. The puzzle is why women in these countries react in this way to the sex of their first child, which is chosen randomly by nature. We consider two explanations. As Dahl and Moretti (2008) we show that first-born boys positively affect the probability that a marriage survives, but differently from them and from the literature on developing countries, we show that after a first-born boy the probability that women have more children increases. In these advanced economies the negative impact on fertility deriving from the fact that fewer pregnancies are needed to get a boy is more than compensated by the positive effect on fertility deriving from the greater stability of marriages, which is neglected by studies that focus on married women only.

Suggested Citation

  • Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Ann & Viviano, Eliana, 2011. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8354, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8354
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Alexander M. Gelber & Joshua W. Mitchell, 2009. "Taxes and Time Allocation: Evidence from Single Women," NBER Working Papers 15583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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).
    4. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    5. Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2011. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1485-1538.
    6. Donald Cox, 2007. "Biological Basics and the Economics of the Family," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 91-108, Spring.
    7. Hyunbae Chun & Jeungil Oh, 2002. "An instrumental variable estimate of the effect of fertility on the labour force participation of married women," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(10), pages 631-634.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tran, Dong Quang & Nguyen, Viet Cuong, 2014. "Having an Older Brother Is Good or Bad for Your Education And Health? Evidence from Vietnam," MPRA Paper 70153, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Gathmann, Christina & Sass, Björn, 2017. "Taxing Childcare: Effects on Childcare Choices, Family Labor Supply and Children," IZA Discussion Papers 10813, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Krzysztof Karbownik & Michal Myck, 2012. "For Some Mothers More than Others: How Children Matter for Labour Market Outcomes When Both Fertility and Female Employment Are Low," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1208, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. repec:taf:apeclt:v:24:y:2017:i:19:p:1369-1373 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. P. Rupert & G. Zanella, 2014. "Grandchildren and Their Grandparents’ Labor Supply," Working Papers wp937, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    6. Rupert, Peter & Zanella, Giulio, 2017. "Grandchildren and Their Grandparents' Labor Supply," IZA Discussion Papers 11235, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Laura Cyron & Guido Schwerdt & Martina Viarengo, 2017. "The effect of opposite sex siblings on cognitive and noncognitive skills in early childhood," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(19), pages 1369-1373, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Female labour supply; mothers' behaviour; preference for sons;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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