Does parental desire for both a son and daughter influence the decision to have another child? Evidence from census data

Rebecca Kippen, Australian National University
Ann Evans, Australian National University
Edith E. Gray, Australian National University

This paper investigates Australian parents’ desire for both a son and a daughter. In many traditional societies there is a preference to have at least one son. In modern societies it is often found that parents want children of each sex. Using innovative techniques of analysis, we investigate whether sex composition of existing children is an important factor in parity progression, and whether parents have larger families than originally planned in order to have a family with a son and a daughter. Using census data from 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2001, women are linked with their biological children, allowing investigation of family sex composition and its changing impact over time on the propensity to have another child. This paper is part of a larger project investigating the impact of sex composition of children on parity progression, using census data, survey data and qualitative interviews.

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Presented in Session 139: Cultural dimensions of demographic behaviour in industrialized societies