Cross-National Variation in Attitudinal Measures of Gender Preference for Children: An Examination of Demographic and Health Surveys from 40 Countries

Kana Fuse, University of Washington

While much research has examined gender preferences using behavioral measures such as skewed sex ratios, sex imbalance in infant mortality, and sibling size and order, attitudinal measures have been analyzed less systematically. Using data from 40 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 2000 and 2006, this paper advances understanding of gender preferences for children in developing countries by examining attitudinal measures of gender preference cross-nationally. This paper also explores basic socioeconomic determinants of attitudinal gender preference. My findings show that, while the most popular type of preference in the vast majority of countries is balance preference (preference for an equal number of girls and boys), prevalence of son and daughter preferences vary widely across countries and regions. Of the socioeconomic factors examined, lower educational attainment and lower levels of household wealth generally explain gender preferences for children, particularly in countries where son preference is pronounced.

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Presented in Poster Session 7