When Girls Are Not Missing: A New Framework for Uncovering Variety in Parents' Preferences for Sons and Daughters
"When Girls Are Not Missing: A New Framework for Uncovering Variety in Parents' Preferences for Sons and Daughters"
Abstract: In several countries in Asia, girls are more likely than boys to be aborted or die in infancy. Such strong son bias is absent in much of the rest of the world. But, particularly in high-fertility settings, standard approaches for measuring sex preferences generally cannot determine whether equal shares of parents favor sons and favor daughters, parents generally want a balance of sons and daughters, or parents generally do not care about the sex of their children. This paper introduces a new framework that overcomes the challenge of measuring variety in sex preferences in a population using birth history records. This framework has two components: a model of childbearing that separates preferences over the sex and number of children, and a revealed preference technique that selects among many possible combinations of preferences to best match an observed population. Empirical estimates suggest that sex preferences are widespread: substantial shares of parents around the world decide to have additional children based on the sex of their previous children.
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