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Are Sons and Daughters Substitutable? A Study of Intra-household Allocation of Resources in Contemporary Japan

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Abstract

Gender inequality in educational attainment remains a salient feature of contemporary Japanese society. This inequality lies not at the high school level but at the university level. Equal numbers of men and women advance to high school, but a significantly lower proportion of women advance to four-year universities relative to men. Starting from government statistics which report that Japanese parents aspire to university education more for their sons than for their daughters, I argue that the gender gap in the university advancement rate in Japan stems in part from differences in how parents allocate resources within the household depending on the gender of their children. From the individuals' perspective, the gender composition of their siblings should therefore alter the ways in which resources are allocated to them. Using a 1995 cross-sectional sample of men and women between the ages of 20 and 70 in Japan, I test the null hypothesis that the marginal rate of substitution (MRS) between an additional brother versus an additional sister with respect to the probability that an individual advances to university or not is equal to unity, i.e. MRS = 1 implies that brothers and sisters are perfectly substitutable and that parents allocate resources equally amongst their sons and daughters. My results show that the null hypothesis is rejected for women but cannot be rejected for men: It is not sibship size per se that depresses women's likelihood of university advancement, but the number of brothers in the household. My findings lend support to the position that intra-household resources in Japan are likely to be allocated in favor of sons and away from daughters.

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  • Ono, Hiroshi, 2000. "Are Sons and Daughters Substitutable? A Study of Intra-household Allocation of Resources in Contemporary Japan," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 397, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 10 Feb 2003.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0397
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    File URL: http://swopec.hhs.se/hastef/papers/hastef0397.pdf
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    1. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages 143-162, August.
    2. 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.
    3. Nakamura, Jiro & Ueda, Atsuko, 1999. "On the Determinants of Career Interruption by Childbirth among Married Women in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 73-89, March.
    4. William L. Parish & Robert J. Willis, 1993. "Daughters, Education, and Family Budgets Taiwan Experiences," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(4), pages 863-898.
    5. Siu Fai Leung, 1991. "A Stochastic Dynamic Analysis of Parental Sex Preferences and Fertility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1063-1088.
    6. Houseman, Susan N & Abraham, Katharine G, 1993. "Female Workers as a Buffer in the Japanese Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 45-51, May.
    7. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Case, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-563.
    8. Yoshi-Fumi Nakata & Carl Mosk, 1987. "The Demand for College Education in Postwar Japan," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 377-404.
    9. Linda N. Edwards, 1988. "Equal Employment Opportunity in Japan: A View from the West," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 41(2), pages 240-250, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    human capital formation; economics of the family; quality-quantity tradeoff of children; gender inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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