Sex preferences for children among foreign-born mothers in Sweden

Eleonora Mussino, Stockholm University
Vitor F. Miranda, Stockholm University
Li Ma, Stockholm University

Preferences for sons were mainly observed in East and South East Asia; resulting in imbalances in sex ratios at birth of children as well as much higher parity progression rates among parents that do not yet have a son. Recent studies also found existence of son preference in the former Soviet Union countries, Albania and in the Balkans in general. In comparison, studies on the western countries provided evidence of preference to have at least one child of each sex. But, what happens when citizens from countries with strong son preferences immigrate to countries where preferences for a mixed sex composition of children prevail? A few studies have been carried out on aspects of sex preferences for children of immigrant women with Asian background, indicating elevated sex ratios at birth especially for higher order births. Using data from Swedish population registers, we aim at extending this line of research by focusing on sex ratios at birth and parity progression rates by the sex composition of parents’ previous children. We will study the extent to which immigrants in Sweden, a country that promote gender equality, may exhibit gender preferences in their fertility behavior and whether such preferences may change across time since migration. Sweden represents an interesting case. On the one hand, the “liberal” and “individualistic” context allows for individual choices. On the other hand, the environment facing immigrants in the host society may promote social norms that are conducive to gender equality and higher fertility. Finally, the focus on sex preference among both immigrant men and women introduces an additional novelty in the research field.

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Presented in Session 77: Gender, fertility and sex preferences