Gender Preferences for Children in Europe:
Empirical Results from 17 FFS Countries

Karsten Hank
Hans-Peter Kohler, Ph.D.

Date Received:6 December 1999
Date Published:25 January 2000

Abstract:
Gender preferences may have substantial implications for a couple’s fertility behavior. However, there is only limited empirical research investigating this subject in modern Western societies. In this paper, data from the Fertility and Family Surveys are used to compare 17 European countries with respect to their gender preferences for children. Despite substantial regional heterogeneity across Europe, our results show a strong tendency towards a preference for a mixed sex composition (if there is any preference at all). However, we find some unexpected indication for a girl preference in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Portugal. Because socioeconomic conditions and family policies in Europe, which are important factors in explaining different fertility levels, are not related to a specific gender of children, we suggest that sociocultural factors should be regarded as important determinants of different gender preferences.

Author's affiliation:
Karsten Hank
is a Doctoral Student in the Research Group on Social Dynamics and Fertility at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Konrad-Zuse-Strasse 1, 18057 Rostock, Germany.

Hans-Peter Kohler
is Head of the Research Group on Social Dynamics and Fertility at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Konrad-Zuse-Strasse 1, 18057 Rostock, Germany.

Table of Contents:
1    Introduction
2    Reasons for Gender Preferences
3    Empirical Findings from Western Countries
4    Data and Method
5    Results
6    Summary and Conclusions
7    Acknowledgements
   Notes
   References
   Tables
   Figures

Keywords: gender preferences, fertility, crossnational analysis

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Word count: 3,460

1. Introduction


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Gender Preferences for Children in Europe: Empirical Results from 17 FFS Countries
Karsten Hank and Hans-Peter Kohler
© 2000 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ISSN 1435-9871
http://www.demographic-research.org/Volumes/Vol2/1