Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers

Type Journal Article - Economics Letters
Title Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers
Volume 123
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 274-278
URL https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/51728/1/665598203.pdf
We show that in the US, the UK, Italy and Sweden women whose first child is a boy are less
likely to work in a typical week and work fewer hours than women with first-born girls. The
puzzle is why women in these countries react in this way to the sex of their first child, which is
chosen randomly by nature. We consider two explanations. As Dahl and Moretti (2008) we
show that first-born boys positively affect the probability that a marriage survives, but
differently from them and from the literature on developing countries, we show that after a
first-born boy the probability that women have more children increases. In these advanced
economies the negative impact on fertility deriving from the fact that fewer pregnancies are
needed to get a boy is more than compensated by the positive effect on fertility deriving from
the greater stability of marriages, which is neglected by studies that focus on married women

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