Parents’ preferences for the sex of their children in Sweden: attitudes and behavior

Vitor F. Miranda, Stockholm University
Johan Dahlberg, Stockholm University
Gunnar Andersson, Stockholm University

It is sometimes argued that, in relatively gender equal societies, parents’ preferences for the sex of their children should be small or non-existing. However, previous studies have suggested that a stronger preference for daughter exists in many Scandinavian counties that are frequently noted for being among the most gender equal societies in the world. Combining new register data for Sweden and recent survey data on couples stated preferences for the sex of their next child, the authors show that the preference for daughters has increased in Sweden over the last decade. In addition to the growing preference for daughters among two-child women, our findings show that during the last decade this preference was noticeable even among one-child parents. Despite the Swedish society being known for holding gender equal social norms, the interviewed parents still openly expressed some degree of preference for daughters over sons. They have indicated pressure from family and friends as an important factor shaping their preferences.

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Presented in Session 77: Gender, fertility and sex preferences