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Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?

Author

Listed:
  • Blau, Francine D.

    (Cornell University)

  • Kahn, Lawrence M.

    (Cornell University)

  • Brummund, Peter

    (University of Alabama)

  • Cook, Jason B.

    (University of Utah)

  • 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 B. & Larson-Koester, Miriam, 2017. "Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?," IZA Discussion Papers 11003, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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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    Cited by:

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    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Gielen, Anne C. & Zwiers, Esmée, 2018. "Biology and the Gender Gap in Educational Performance: The Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Test Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 11936, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Cools, Angela & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2017. "Sibling Gender Composition and Women's Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 11001, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Kabátek, Jan & Ribar, David C., 2017. "Teenage Daughters as a Cause of Divorce," Other publications TiSEM 69eba753-9d8f-4b68-bd8c-1, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    12. 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).
    13. 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.
    14. 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).
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
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    18. 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.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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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