Journal Article

Sons, Daughters, and Parental Behaviour

Shelly Lundberg

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 21, issue 3, pages 340-356
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI:
Sons, Daughters, and Parental Behaviour

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  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Public Economics
  • Political Economy
  • Public Policy


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The prevalence of son preference and its implications for family behaviour in developing countries have received a great deal of scholarly attention, but child-gender bias is believed to be empirically unimportant in wealthy, non-traditional societies. Studies by sociologists and psychologists during the past 30 years, however, have documented consistent discrepancies between the behaviour of parents of sons and parents of daughters—boys tend to increase marital stability and marital satisfaction relative to girls, and fathers spend more time with, and are more involved with, sons than daughters. In recent years, economists have begun to contribute to the child-gender literature, re-examining the effects of sons and daughters on family structure and parental involvement with larger samples and greater concern for possible sources of selection bias. Other economic outcomes, such as market work and earnings, have also been studied, and some investigators have exploited the randomness of child gender as a source of exogenous variation in parental behaviour. In general, recent results suggest that child gender does affect family stability and the time allocation of parents, but it is not clear whether these responses reflect parental preferences for boys rather than girls or differences in the constraints parents face.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth ; Public Economics ; Political Economy ; Public Policy

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