Preference or Indifference? Parents and the Sex Composition of Children.

Malgorzata Mikucka, UCL
Ester Rizzi, Université catholique de Louvain

It has been argued that parents’ indifference for the gender composition of children should be one of the consequences of the gender revolution. Findings for developed countries consistently show preferences for a mixed composition of children, but evidence for a gender indifference also appears. In this study, we aim to update previous comparative studies on parents’ gender preferences. We employ data of the European Social Survey from round 1 to round 6 (2002-2012) and apply a linear regression to the intention to have a third child. Our main explanatory variable is the sex composition of previous children. When the intention to have a third child is higher for the same-sex composition compared to the mixed composition, we can conclude that parents have preferences for a mixed composition. Parents’ indifference corresponds to the absence of a statistically significant effect of the sex composition on fertility intentions. Our preliminary analysis focuses on countries of the corporatist group: Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, and Netherlands. We find preferences for a mixed composition of children only for German men, while other men and all women of corporatist countries are indifferent to the sex composition of children. The final version of the study will extend the analysis to other countries of the ESS and consider parents’ preferences by socio-economic status.

Presented in Poster Session 2