How Girls Fare under Different Regimes of Sex Preference for Children

Vida Maralani, Yale University
Candas Pinar, Yale University

The question of how girls fare in cultures where parents prefer sons has been researched extensively. But there has been little analysis of how girls fare under other types of sex preference for children. This is important because parents who say they prefer a balanced sex composition may nonetheless favor their sons. We assess how girls fare given their mothers’ stated preference regarding the sex composition of children using data from 131 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 55 countries from 1993-2012. We group families into four categories: prefer sons, prefer daughters, prefer mix of sons and daughters, and indifferent to children’s sex. We then assess girls’ welfare in health and wellbeing across these types of sex preference. We analyze this both unconditionally, and controlling for family characteristics. We also examine regional differences across the world, and, for a subset of countries, trends across three periods: 1993-1999, 2000-2005, and 2006-2012.

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Presented in Poster Session 9: Children and Youth; Data and Methods