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Document Type
Working Papers
Publication Topic(s)
Kana Fuse and Macro International Inc. Calverton, Maryland, USA
Publication Date
July 2008
Publication ID

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While much research has examined gender preferences for children by studying behavioral measures such as skewed sex ratios, sex imbalance in infant mortality, and sibling size and order, attitudinal measures have been analyzed less systematically. Using data from 40 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 2000 and 2006, this paper advances understanding of gender preferences for children in developing countries by examining attitudinal measures of gender preference cross-nationally. This paper also explores basic socioeconomic determinants of attitudinal gender preference. Findings of this study show that, while the most popular type of preference in the vast majority of countries is balance preference (preference for an equal number of girls and boys), countries and regions vary widely in prevalence of son and daughter preferences. Daughter preference is common in most of Latin America/Caribbean, some of Southeast Asia, and in about one-third of sub-Saharan African countries. Son preference is most common in North Africa, South Asia, some of Southeast Asia, and in about two-thirds of sub-Sahara African countries examined. Of the socioeconomic factors examined, lower educational attainment and lower levels of household wealth generally explain gender preferences for children, particularly in countries where son preference is pronounced.