Volume 28 - Article 36 | Pages 1021–1052

Daughter preference in Japan: A reflection of gender role attitudes?

By Kana Fuse

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Date received:01 Feb 2012
Date published:17 May 2013
Word count:8357
Keywords:children, gender attitudes, gender preferences, gender roles


Background: Unlike other East Asian nations where preference for sons over daughters still prevails, gender preference for children in Japan has progressively shifted from son preference to a noticeable daughter preference over the past few decades. This emergence of daughter preference is surprising given that gender relations are more traditional in Japan than in other advanced countries.

Objective: I focus on the extent to which individuals’ gender preferences are shaped by their gender role attitudes and evaluate whether daughter preference is a reflection of convergence or a persistent divergence in gender roles in Japan.

Methods: I use data from the Single Persons subset of the 11th Japanese National Fertility Survey conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in 1997. Using multinomial logistic regression, I estimate the relationship between Japanese singles’ gender role attitudes and their type of gender preference for children.

Results: Findings suggest that the effect of gender role attitudes on one’s child gender preference differs for men and women. Overall, while daughter preference is associated with nontraditional gender role attitudes for men, daughter preference is associated with traditional attitudes for women.

Conclusions: Traditionalism is still driving gender preference, though in a different way for men and women. Emerging daughter preference may not simply be a reflection of improvements in women’s status, but in fact it is likely that persistent divergence in gender roles remain in Japan.

Author's Affiliation

Kana Fuse - National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Variations in attitudinal gender preferences for children across 50 less-developed countries
Volume 23 - Article 36

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