Does it pay to be the first-born if you’re a girl?

Revisiting Donald Appleyard's liveable streets project in San Francisco in the early 70s

I’m gob-smacked by the findings of this paper, The Demand for Sons. No, it doesn’t pay to be the first-born in the family if you’re a girl, at least not in the US. Preference for sons is not limited to China and India.

The paper is by Gordon Dahl and Enrico Moretti from the University of California and was published in 2008 in The Review of Economic Studies.

They find that “first-born girls and their siblings are more likely to live in families where income is lower, the poverty rate is higher, welfare participation is higher, home ownership is lower, and child support payments following a divorce are lower”.

The authors ask this question: do parents in the US have preferences regarding the gender of their children and, if so, does this have negative consequences for daughters versus sons? Read the rest of this entry »