Girls or boys? A new paper on preferences for children's sexes
01 Feb 2018
Together with Mats Lillehagen, I have done a paper on immigrants preferences for their children’s sexes. We use register data and the same-sex approach to estimate relative sex preferences among a large number of different immigrant groups in Norway. With the same sex approach I mean that we get traction in estimating preferences by comparing the third-birth rates among those who have had two boys with those who have had two girls. The main takeaway from the paper is that immigrants replicate the patterns of preferences that dominate in their countries of origin.
It is now out in the latest issue of Population Studies. Here’s the abstract: Parental sex preferences have been documented in many native populations, but much less evidence is available on immigrants’ preferences for the sexes of their children. Using high-quality longitudinal register data from Norway, a country with a recent immigration history, we estimate hazards regression models of third birth risks by the sex composition of the first two children. A central question in the extant literature is whether the sex preferences of immigrant mothers match those observed in their country of origin, or if cultural adaption to local conditions is more important. Our analyses indicate that the sex preferences of immigrants generally match those previously documented for their native population, especially in the case of son preferences. The pattern of sex preferences is unmodified by the mother’s exposure to the host society. In sum, our evidence generally supports theories emphasizing cultural persistence in preferences, rather than theories of adaption or immigrant selectivity.
Read the full paper here
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