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son preference

Odds are you’re measuring son preference incorrectly

Seema Jayachandran's picture
When investigating son-biased fertility preferences, the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) offer the go-to survey questions:
  • If you could go back to the time you did not have any children and could choose exactly the number of children to have in your whole life, how many would that be?
  • How many of these children would you like to be boys, how many would you like to be girls, and for how many would it not matter if it’s a boy or a girl?

Uncovering Variety in Sex Preferences When Some Parents Want Sons and Others Want Daughters: Guest Post by Johannes Norling

This is the third in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.

Gender disparities in educational attainment, labor market opportunities, political representation, and many other areas of economic and social activity generally favor men around the world (Schwab et al. 2014).  Gender also matters for perhaps the most fundamental activity of all: reproduction.  In China, India, and several other countries in Asia, parents with daughters often keep having children until they have sons.  Where parents want sons, girls tend to belong to larger families, leaving them at a disadvantage when family resources are spread thinly across many children (Jensen 2002).  Girls in many of these countries are also more likely than boys to be aborted or die in infancy (Guilmoto 2012).  Imbalanced sex ratios distort marriage markets and can have other harmful economic and social consequences.