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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Parents treat sons and daughters differently, but the causes and manifestations of the discrimination depend on context. This chapter reviews the literature on child gender in developing and developed countries and discusses methodological issues that arise when studying child gender effects. In many Asian countries, girls receive less adequate nutrition and health care, and sex-selective abortion is common. In the United States, parents of sons are more likely to be married than parents of daughters, and paternal labor supply and household expenditure patterns vary by child gender. In both cases, the patterns can be explained by differences in returns to children by gender or preferences for sons, and the responses to child gender are shaped by parents’ relative bargaining power. The particular mechanisms depend on culture and constraints faced by parents. Methodological issues include endogenous fertility and child mortality in developing countries and endogenous family structure in the United States.

Keywords: gender, children, family, household, discrimination, bargaining, dowry, fertility, missing women

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