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Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?

Author

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  • Blau, Francine D.

    () (Cornell University)

  • Kahn, Lawrence M.

    () (Cornell University)

  • Brummund, Peter

    () (University of Alabama)

  • Cook, Jason

    () (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Larson-Koester, Miriam

    () (Cornell University)

Abstract

In this paper, we use 2008-2013 American Community Survey data to update and further probe Dahl and Moretti's (2008) son preference results, which found evidence that having a female first child increased the probability of single female headship and raised fertility. In light of the substantial increase in immigration, we examine this question separately for immigrants and natives. Among the population in the aggregate, as well as among the native-born separately, consistent with Dahl and Moretti (2008), we find that having a female first child raises the likelihood that the mother is a single parent. However, in sharp contrast to Dahl and Moretti (2008), we find that having a female first child is actually associated with lower fertility. Thus, by the 2008-2013 period, any apparent son preference among natives in their fertility decisions appears to be outweighed by factors such as cost concerns in raising girls. This change may be plausible in light of the reversal of the gender gap in college attendance beginning in the 1980s (Goldin, Katz and Kuziemko 2006), making girls more costly. For immigrants, we also find evidence that having a female first child contributes to female headship, with an effect that has the same magnitude as that for natives although is not statistically significant. However, in contrast to natives, we do find a positive fertility effect, suggesting son preference in fertility among this group. This interpretation is further supported by evidence that, for both first and second generation immigrants (second generation immigrants were examined using the Current Population Surveys) having a girl has a more positive effect on fertility for those whose source countries have lower values of the World Economic Forum's Gender Equity Index, or lower female labor force participation rates and higher sex (boy-to-girl) ratios among births. We also examine sex selection and find no evidence that sex selection has spread beyond the race groups identified in previous work (e.g., Almond and Edlund 2008).

Suggested Citation

  • Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Brummund, Peter & Cook, Jason & Larson-Koester, Miriam, 2017. "Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?," IZA Discussion Papers 11003, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11003
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
    2. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli, 2006. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 552-561, 04-05.
    3. Francine Blau & Lawrence Kahn & Albert Liu & Kerry Papps, 2013. "The transmission of women’s fertility, human capital, and work orientation across immigrant generations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 405-435, April.
    4. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
    5. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    6. 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.
    7. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-177, January.
    8. Francine D. Blau, 1992. "The Fertility of Immigrant Women: Evidence from High-Fertility Source Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 93-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jason Abrevaya, 2009. "Are There Missing Girls in the United States? Evidence from Birth Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-34, April.
    10. Siwan Anderson & Debraj Ray, 2010. "Missing Women: Age and Disease," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1262-1300.
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    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

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kabátek, Jan & Ribar, David C., 2017. "Teenage Daughters as a Cause of Divorce," IZA Discussion Papers 11046, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Van Effenterre, Clémentine, 2017. "Papa Does Preach: Daughters and Polarisation of Attitudes toward Abortion," IZA Discussion Papers 11177, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. 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.
    4. Cools, Angela & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2017. "Sibling Gender Composition and Women's Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 11001, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. 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.
    6. 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 for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    gender; son preference; family structure; fertility; sex selection; immigrants;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • 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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