King and Queen Beats Two of a Kind

I have a new paper out, looking at the relationship between the gender of your children and whether you’re married (8/10 parents are married, 1/10 have never been married, and 1/10 are divorced). If you think children do better when their parents are married, then you might be interested in the factors that determine whether or not parents are married.

Because the sex of your children is random, any correlation between child gender and marital status must be causal.* While several US studies have found that families with daughters are less likely to be married, I don’t find any similar effect for Australia.

But that doesn’t mean that child gender has no impact in Australia. It turns out that in two-child families, parents are 1.7 percentage points more likely to be married if they have a boy and a girl than if they have two of a kind. Here’s the paper and the media release.

* The use of sex-selection technologies is trivially low in Australia (see footnote 9 if you’re interested in this issue).

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9 Responses to King and Queen Beats Two of a Kind

  1. Russell Hamilton says:

    So ……..??? Is this what the ARC funds? What next – an investigation between sex of children and whether parents drive SUV or sedan ?

  2. Andrew Leigh says:

    Russell, you’ll be glad to know there’s no ARC funding. (Actually, I’m not sure you should even think of this as being funded by my salary – I did most of the work on it between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.)

  3. Russell Hamilton says:

    Ah well, I suppose human knowledge is built up by small accretions ……

  4. ………..more likely built up by small secretions….

  5. Eco Student says:

    While you normally explain yourself quite well, I had to look at the discussion paper itself in order to work out what you meant . . . it sounds much more reasonable when it is explained as whether or not child gender affects the decision to marry or divorce.

  6. Andrew Leigh says:

    ES, thanks for the tip. I’ll try to be more precise next time I explain the research (this would be much simpler to expound if it was just a divorce story).

  7. Jaye Newland says:

    Dear Andrew Leigh,
    I find it interesting your use of gender and sex in the same light, and blurring the meaning of “gender”, which in itself would fill a very large book.
    Sex is what is between the legs, the result of sex can be bottled for procreation, and gender is what is between the ears, and it cannot be bottled for any purpose.
    Marriage and divorce have nothing to do with sex or gender, it is only paper.
    Paper is man made, and does not make babies, nor does it proportion gender, it is useful for wiping your bottom, or creating papers for people to read.
    Sex is bleeding obvious, gender is not bleeding obvious.

  8. Andrew Leigh says:

    Jaye, I’m aware of (though not well-schooled in) the distinction between sex and gender. However, the real point of using the term “child gender” was to avoid using the phrase “child sex”, which has an unfortunate double-meaning.

  9. Patrick says:

    Marriage and divorce have nothing to do with sex or gender, it is only paper‘ – whoops, there we go again!

    Millenia of history and any prospect of there being any sense in our language both erased with an ignorant swipe of a keyboard.

    Fear not, Andrew, 99.9% of people, and 99.999% of those who can think, will understand perfectly what you have written.

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