Francine Blau, Lawrence Kahn, Peter Brummund, Jason Cook, Miriam Larson-Koester, 12 March 2020

Previous studies provided evidence that even in developed countries, parents behaved differently with sons than with daughters. In light of more recent data, this column presents new evidence that the preference for sons appears to have declined in the US. Having a female first child continues to increase the likelihood of a family’s living without a father, but is now associated with lower fertility over time. 

Adriana Kugler, Santosh Kumar, 20 March 2016

Evidence suggests that smaller family size can spur economic development and reduce poverty. This column revisits the quantity-quality trade-off between family size and education in India. The findings show that family size indeed has a negative impact on schooling. The high fertility rate within households may therefore have caused the low level of human capital accumulation in India. 

Seema Jayachandran, Rohini Pande, 05 May 2015

Indian children are more likely to be malnourished than their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite higher standards of living. This column uses data on child height – an anthropometric measure of net nutrition – from Africa and India to explore how parental gender preferences affect the likelihood of children being malnourished. Indian firstborn sons are found to have a height advantage over African firstborn sons, and the height disadvantage appears first in second-born children, increasing for subsequent births. This suggests that a preference for a healthy male heir influences fertility decisions and how parents allocate resources between their children.

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