Kieran Healy recently posted a story about studies suggesting Americans still have a preference for sons over daughters -- although less of one than the rest of the world. The studies are not conclusive; his commenters actually make some convincing alternative interpretations of the evidence. Kieran also mentions a company offering sex-selection technology, and says that most parents who use its services want girls.
Why the contradiction? Kieran mentions the fact that the technology has a higher success rate for creating girls than boys, which may be a factor. But I wonder if it might also have to do with the demographics of Microsort users. I'd guess that people who avail themselves of a technology like that would be upscale, urban, and tech-savvy, and it wouldn't surprise me if that group had more of a daughter preference generally. As a couple of the commenters mention, girls are seen as being easier to raise than boys, and perhaps a dual-career couple would prefer a kid who'd be less of a hassle. The studies Kieran cites don't seem to look at class or regional differences, but it wouldn't shock me if the boy preference were more common among poorer and more traditional people. In the poorer countries studied parents often depend on their children to care for them in old age, and sons are preferred for this. (The Chinese are, in fact, quite blunt about this motivation.) I imagine a couple that would drop $2500 to choose a child's sex would be less worried about it.Posted by Camassia at October 08, 2003 07:08 PM | TrackBack