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Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?

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  • Francine D. Blau
  • Lawrence M. Kahn
  • Peter Brummund
  • Jason 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.

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  • Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Peter Brummund & Jason Cook & Miriam Larson-Koester, 2017. "Is There Still Son Preference in the United States?," NBER Working Papers 23816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23816
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    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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    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.
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    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).
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    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).
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    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.
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    More about this item

    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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