Abstract Reasons for gender preference
1 Introduction

Strong gender preferences, combined with infanticide, sex-selective abortions, or sex-selection technologies, may lead to a serious distortion in the natural sex ratio [22]. Such an imbalance between the two sexes could, for example, cause a delay in the age of marriage, or an increase in the number of people who never marry. Furthermore, gender preferences may have substantial implications for a couple’s fertility behavior. One might assume that parents who desire one or more children of a certain sex may have larger families than would otherwise be the case. Parents who fail to achieve the desired sex balance (or ratio) by the time they reach the number of children intended, might tend to revise their family size goals upward [9]. This effect, however, is not even consistently observed in traditional societies with pronounced gender preferences [1]. For industrialized countries, some studies show an effect of gender preferences on reproductive behavior (e.g. Marleau and Saucier [18], who analyzed data from Canada), while others have found no impact of gender preferences on ultimate family size (e.g. Ayala and Falk [2], who studied US families).

Wood and Bean [28] argue that the influence of the sex composition of previous children on fertility behavior at each parity should increase with the trend toward smaller family sizes. Therefore, it is especially interesting to investigate gender preferences in the contemporary European low-fertility setting, where the question to have children at all (or, why more than one) is of growing importance.

Abstract Reasons for gender preference

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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