Son preference and fertility in China, South Korea, and the United States
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The goal of this dissertation is to contribute in three ways to the literature on son preference and fertility through a comparative perspective. First, I examine the impact of son preference on fertility in China and South Korea compared with the United States. The impact that a female birth has on the likelihood of a woman having another birth is of the most concern: Women who have one or two daughter(s) as previous child(ren) are expected to be more likely to experience the hazard of having a second or a third birth. Second, my dissertation attempts to examine the effects of women’s status on son preference if women’s education reduces son preference. Third, my dissertation examines son preference and fertility in the U.S. Even though the U.S. has never shown son preference regarding sex ratios at birth, recent research has shown this association to exist among poor Hispanics. My dissertation used data from a national sample, 2002 National Survey of Family Growth. The results showed that women in China and South Korea who had a daughter instead of a son as their first child had a higher hazard of having a second birth as expected. Moreover, the results showed that the hazard ratio of having a third birth for Chinese and South Korean women was almost four and five times more, respectively. As expected, the hazard ratios for the U.S. were not significant and thus did not support the hypothesis. And the more educated women who had a daughter(s) instead of a son(s) as their previous child(ren) were less likely to have a second birth, but not in the third birth. This means women’s education apparently does not reduce son preference in the case of the third birth. Thus, women’s education apparently has limited or no influence on the childbearing decision where son preference is strong. Third, Hispanic women with low socioeconomic status did not have a significant hazard ratio of having a higher order birth. Accordingly, the dissertation does not find any statistical evidence of American son preference at the national level.
Min, Ho Sik (2007). Son preference and fertility in China, South Korea, and the United States. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from