Parental preference for sons and daughters in a Western Industrial setting: evidence and implications

Rebecca Kippen, Ann Evans, Edith Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This paper considers whether sex composition of existing children in Australian families is an important factor in parity progression. Using census data from 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2001, women are linked with their co-resident children, allowing investigation of family sex composition and its changing impact over time on the propensity to have another child. The study finds that parents are much more likely to have a third and fourth birth if existing children are all of the same sex, indicating a strong preference for children of both sexes. This increased propensity has added around three per cent to the fertility of recent cohorts. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potential impact of sex-selection technologies on fertility. The authors argue that future widespread use of reliable sex-selection technologies might act to increase fertility in the short term, but would lead to a long-term reduction in fertility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-597
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Biosocial Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes

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