Results Acknowledgements
6 Summary and conclusion

Taking advantage of the availability of highly comparable data for 17 European countries, we analyze gender preferences for children from a crossnational perspective. Despite substantial regional heterogeneity across Europe, our results basically support the findings of older studies dealing with gender preferences in Western societies. There is 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, which cannot be explained on the basis of our data.

Results of studies on gender preferences are not always unambiguous. In the Swedish case, for example, findings by Murphy [21] suggest that parents with two daughters are less likely to have a third child than others, while Hoem [13], on the other hand, finds evidence that those Swedish couples who have two daughters are most likely to have a third child. Eventually, our own results point to a preference for a mixed gender composition. For the development of more stable models, substantial improvements with regard to the underlying mechanisms responsible for gender preferences in modern societies have to be made.

Because socioeconomic conditions and family policies that are important factors in explaining different fertility levels, are not related to a specific gender of children, we propose a ‘sociocultural’ approach to the explanation of different gender preferences. An empirical investigation of this argument needs more detailed, country-specific analyses, which have to be left to future research.

Results Acknowledgements

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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