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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. However, studies have suggested that a stronger preference for having daughter exists in Scandinavian countries, which are frequently noted for being among the most gender equal societies in the world. Despite Swedish society being known for holding gender equal social norms, interviewed parents openly expressed some degree of preference for having daughters over sons.
ly, developing countries were the main focus of research e. It is sometimes argued that sex preferences would be small or non-existing in relatively gender equal societies Pollard and Morgan However, Andersson et al. Those scholars have shown that the fertility of two-child mothers by the sex composition of their children reveals a stronger desire to have a daughter than to have a son in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, but not in Finland see also Andersson et al.
Their study shows that these patterns emerged in the s and became even more pronounced in the s. The phenomenon of sex preference for sex of children in a society can be studied from two different angles. While one approach is to make inferences based on the study of observed behavior, such as differential birth rates, another approach is to investigate preferences and attitudes directly reported by parents.
In this context, the purpose of the present study is twofold. First, we extend the existing analyses by Andersson et al. We add newly available register data for another decade of observation — to examine whether the distinct pattern of sex preferences for daughters observed in the s has persisted, vanished, or intensified during the s.
The Swedish GGS contains questions on whether interviewees would like to have another child and their preferences for the gender of that possible next. The survey data also allow us to study the influence of different factors that may relate to fertility decisions, such as employment prospects, romantic life, and social pressure from family and friends.
The next section includes a brief overview of empirical work that documents preferences for the sex of children in different parts of the world, and the Nordic countries, in particular. This is followed by a presentation of theoretical arguments from the literature to explain why parents might prefer to have sons or daughters and how those preferences might change over time as a country moves towards a more gender egalitarian society. We then present our research questions and provide an overview of our data and methods, followed by the empirical and a concluding discussion.
studies have demonstrated that parents often have preferences about the sex composition of their offspring, in some cases even adjusting their reproductive behavior to match those preferences. The part of this line of research that has received most attention is perhaps the case of son preferences in societies in South and East Asia.
A series of outcomes related to childbearing have been used to show this pattern. Elevated sex ratios at birth i. This pattern has increased in parallel with the wider availability of technologies to determine the sex of the fetus, such as ultrasonography, and has therefore been linked to the practice of sex-selective abortion Yi et al. Another strategy to indicate the prevalence of son preference is to compare the childbearing intentions and behavior among parents with different s of sons and daughters. The underlying idea is that, when there is strong preference for sons, couples that have only daughters are more likely to reveal a desire to have an additional child than are other couples.
When contraception is accessible, this desire is likely to translate into lower use of birth control and ultimately higher birth rates among couples with only daughters. This pattern was documented in China in the early s, where couples with only daughters showed much lower rate of contraceptive use than other couples with the same family size Arnold and Zhaoxiang Moreover, levels of contraceptive use were equally high among parents with only sons and those with a mix of sons and daughters. This suggests that parents with only sons did not consider it important to have at least one female offspring.
Differential stopping behavior in childbearing that indicates the existence of preferences for having sons over daughters has also been documented in Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Jordan, Pakistan, and Nepal Clark ; Bongaarts For most contemporary societies outside of Asia, the analyses of differential childbearing behavior and intentions have not indicated that son preferences are important. Rather, most research suggests that parents often want to have a balanced sex composition with at least one girl and one boy in their offspring. Furthermore, in some countries such as Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, having at least one daughter seems to matter more than having at least one son.
Although parents with one son and one daughter have the lowest birth rates among different constellations of two-child parents, Scandinavian parents with two sons have considerably higher birth rates than do parents with two daughters Andersson et al. Evidently, the use of differences in birth rates to make inferences about sex preferences for children has some limitations. As noted by Raley and Bianchiit is possible to interpret associations in the opposite way than what is usually done.
For example, parents with two boys might be more likely to progress to a third birth not because they necessarily hope for a daughter, but because they so much enjoy their boy children that they are more likely to want another. For this reason, inferences based on differences in birth rates are enhanced if confirmed by corresponding responses in attitude surveys. This is the approach we apply in the present study, as shown below. Most theoretical attention in relation to sex preferences for children has focused on son preferences. Much theory has focused on how gender roles and their interaction with kinship systems determine unequal abilities for sons and daughters to contribute to the household over the life course Das Gupta et al.
In many historical settings and in contemporary societies in South and East Asia, sons tend to be perceived as the key source of contribution to the household in the form of paid labor or work in the family farm e. The contributions of daughters tend to center in providing unpaid domestic work and care to younger and older family members. A higher demand for boys over girls may emerge from the dependency among many families on the economic contribution brought by sons, especially in contexts of lower incomes and restricted social security.
This gendered division of labor may be compounded by social norms that regulate kinship systems, especially when these systems are patrilineal and residence is patrilocal. In some contexts, parents might be expected to pay dowries for daughters, and inheritance laws may disproportionally favor male offspring Basu and Das Gupta Since son preferences have been attributed to unequal gender roles in patriarchal societies, it could be expected that sex preference for children would be virtually non-existent in societies with greater gender equality.
The empirical evidence on sex preferences and childbearing reviewed above does not fully support this narrative, however, for two main reasons.
First, in many societies that have less rigid gender roles and in which there is no clear son preference, a preference for of each sex is still evident. This indicates that in those societies, sons and daughters are not viewed as equivalent values to parents e. A second empirical finding that problematizes the hypothesis that sex preferences for children would be unimportant in societies with greater gender equality comes from recent analyses of changes in sex preferences over time.
While most studies of sex preferences are based on cross-sectional comparisons of countries, mostly due to data limitations, a few studies have been able to produce long and consistent time series for the same country. Some examples are the studies of the Nordic countries by Andersson et al.
In international comparisons, those countries are often placed among those with the highest level of gender equality, and continued progress in that area has been made over the last decades World Economic Forum ; Frejka et al. Therefore, one may expect that parents in those societies would become more neutral over time to sex preferences and that birth rates would become gradually more independent of the sex composition of offspring.
However, the analysis of third birth risks by Andersson and colleagues suggested otherwise: having at least one daughter seems more important to parents in contemporary Denmark, Norway, and Sweden than having at least one son.
More ificantly, this pattern emerged around the s and had not shown any of decline until the late s, the last data point available in the literature. In short, the developments in those Nordic countries point to the opposite direction that would be expected by a straightforward association between gender equality and the decline of sex preferences, as entirely new patterns of differential birth rates have emerged in the recent past.
The theory of a two-stage gender revolution, as put forward by Goldscheider et al.
The theory suggests that recent gains in gender equality and the decline of the male breadwinner family model in developed societies can be analytically divided into two phases, referring to changes in the public and private sphere, respectively. Changes in the public sphere relate to increases in female participation in the ly male-dominated market of paid labor. The second phase relates to increasing equality in the division of labor in the private sphere, by which men participate more actively in unpaid domestic work, such as childrearing.
This concept refers to the situation when women accumulate the double burden of contributing to paid work and being responsible for household work while the second part of the gender revolution is not complete. Given the multiple dimensions of gender equality, it is difficult to assess how far the second part of the gender revolution has advanced in Sweden. On the one hand, Swedish men hold an increasing share of domestic tasks. On the other hand, men and women tend to specialize in different types of housework Kan et al.
Available statistics on care for elderly parents provide yet additional evidence of the difficult convergence of gender roles in the private sphere. Institutional care and home help services to the elderly were cut back substantially during the s and s and female relatives took most of the extra share of required care. Bydaughters in Sweden were two and a half times more likely than sons to be the care provider to an elderly parent who lived alone and had needs Johansson et al. In our study, we use the framework of the two-stage gender revolution to help explain sex preferences for children and the recent developments in birth rate differentials in Sweden.
Applied to the study of preferences for the sex of children, a slow progress in the second part of the gender revolution means that parents continue to see sons and daughters as having some inherently different traits and strengths, even if gender roles are apparently more flexible. With the increase in female labor force participation, parents may expect that both sons and daughters can provide financial help at old age, or at least support themselves and their own families, but that daughters might continue to be seen as a more reliable source of care and social support.
This narrative is compatible with the desire in Sweden to have at least one daughter. Given the different pace of progress in the different dimensions of gender equality, it is difficult to tell in advance the impact those changes may have had on preferences for the sex of children in Sweden during the last decade.
This is complemented by the study of responses to a survey on attitudes related to childbearing conducted in Sweden during In practical terms, our study addresses four main research questions, as follows:. Has the transition to a third birth become more neutral to the sex composition of the children since ? Has the transition to a second birth remained neutral to the sex of the first child since ? Do stated preferences regarding the sex of the next child available in the survey data confirm the inferences made based on differential births rates? Do those patterns vary by the sex composition of children?
Question 1 relates directly to the links between the progress in gender equality in general and the evolvement of sex preferences for children. The goal is to determine if the patterns of sex preferences as evident in third birth rates during the s to s was a phenomenon exclusive for those decades, or if they have persisted into the s. An eventual convergence to a more gender-neutral pattern of birth rates during the s can be regarded as evidence that the second part of the gender revolution is gaining momentum.
Question 2 serves as an additional check to that same issue. Question 3 has both substantive and methodological ificance. Second, the give additional evidence on whether the conclusions inferred from differential birth rates are an adequate interpretation of sex preferences. This is an important methodological contribution, since this issue was not addressed in the studies by Andersson et al.
Finally, question 4 makes a step towards a better understanding of some of the mechanisms that may drive preferences for the sex of children. With the available survey items at hand, it is possible to investigate, for instance, if parents of only sons are less worried than other parents about the impact of an additional child on their employment opportunities or other aspects of working and couple life. This holds for fertility research in general and evidently also for research on childbearing decisions in relation to any sex preferences for children.
The present study uses Swedish population register data provided by Statistic Sweden in order to investigate birth rates by parity and the sex of the existing child or children. These register data contain rich information on all individuals that ever lived in Sweden between andincluding dates of birth, death, and international immigration and emigration.
Personal identifiers allow us to link parents to their children and to create full birth histories. We focus our analysis on second and third births that took place between and by native-born women born in and onward.
Using event history analysis techniques, we estimate piecewise constant exponential models Hoem ; Blossfeld et al.
The data are organized with monthly precision of exposures and birth outcomes.Wanting sex Pessi
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Wanting sex Pessi