Son Preference and the Persistence of Culture: Evidence from South and East Asian Immigrants to Canada Kevin Milligan ~ Vancouver School of Economics ~ University of British Columbia

Son Preference and the Persistence of Culture: Evidence from South and East Asian Immigrants to Canada

with Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund.
Population and Development Review, March 2013, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 75-95.
Google Scholar entry.

Abstract:

Sex ratios at birth are above the biologically normal level in a number of Asian countries, notably India and China. Standard explanations include poverty and a cultural emphasis on male offspring. We study Asian immigrants to Canada using Census data, focussing on sex ratios across generations and religious groups. We find sex ratios to be normal at first parity, but rising with parity if there were no previous son. Since these immigrants are neither poor nor live in a society tolerant of sex discrimination/sex selection, our findings are more consistent with a preference for sons per se (and not for sons as a means to, e.g., old age support). Additionally, we uncover strong differences by religious affiliation that align with historical differences in doctrine concerning infanticide. Comparing across generations of Asian immigrants, we find fertility responds strongly to the sex composition of older children for first generation families. For the second generation, expression of son preference through the fertility channel is muted whereas sex selection seems to persist.

Versions:

Published version, March 2013: DOI.

Supplemental Tables: Excel.

"O Sister, Where Art Thou? The Role of Son Preference and Sex Choice: Evidence from Immigrants to Canada"
NBER Working Paper No. 15391, October 2009; revised December 2011: Abstract/Paper.


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