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Son preference, fertility and family structure : evidence from reproductive behavior among Nigerian women

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  • Milazzo, Annamaria

Abstract

Strong boy-bias and its consequences for young and unborn girls have been widely documented for Asia. This paper considers a country in Sub-Saharan Africa and finds that parental gender preferences do affect fertility behavior and shape traditional social institutions with negative effects on adult women's health and well-being. Using individual-level data for Nigeria, the paper shows that, compared to women with first-born sons, women with first-born daughters have (and desire) more children and are less likely to use contraceptives. Women with daughters among earlier-born children are also more likely to have shorter birth intervals, a behavior medically known to increase the risk of child and maternal mortality. Moreover, they are more likely to end up in a polygynous union, to be divorced, and to be head of the household. The preference for sons is also supported by child fostering patterns in which daughters are substitutes for foster girls, while the same does not hold for sons and foster boys. These results can partly explain excess female mortality among adult women in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Son preference, fertility and family structure : evidence from reproductive behavior among Nigerian women," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6869, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6869
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lambert, Sylvie & Rossi, Pauline, 2016. "Sons as widowhood insurance: Evidence from Senegal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 113-127.
    2. Rossi, Pauline & Rouanet, Léa, 2015. "Gender Preferences in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Choices," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 326-345.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Benedetta Brioschi & Eliana La Ferrara, 2016. "Violence Against Women: A Cross-cultural Analysis for Africa," NBER Working Papers 21901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:311-322 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. TENIKUE Michel & TEQUAME Miron, 2017. "Birth order, Sex Composition and Risky Behaviour of Adolescent Girls in Nigeria," LISER Working Paper Series 2017-04, LISER.
    6. Fenske, James, 2015. "African polygamy: Past and present," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 58-73.

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    Keywords

    Population Policies; Gender and Law; Gender and Health; Adolescent Health; Population&Development;

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