That was the question explored by economists on the Freakonomics podcast.
Here is a description of the podcast:
This episode was inspired by a question from a reader named John Dolan-Heitlinger, who wrote the following:
My wife has observed that in marriages where there is a son there is less chance of the husband leaving the marriage.
I wonder if that is true.
Thanks for your consideration.
Mr. Dolan-Heitlinger asks, and we deliver. And his wife, as it turns out, is right. In a paper called “The Demand for Sons,” the economists Enrico Moretti and Gordon B. Dahl examined differences in marital rates based on whether a first-born child is a son or daughter. Here are some of their findings:
- Couples who conceive a child out of wedlock and find out that it will be a boy are more likely to marry before the birth of their baby.
- Parents who have first-born girls are significantly more likely to be divorced.
- Fathers are significantly less likely to be living with their children if they have daughters versus sons.
- In any given year, roughly 52,000 first-born daughters younger than 12 years (and all their siblings) would have had a resident father if they had been boys.
- Divorced fathers are much more likely to obtain custody of sons compared to daughters.