Stockholm University
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Son Preference and Second Birth in China

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posted on 2021-05-07, 15:39 authored by Wenhua Zhang
Preference for bearing sons is a common social custom and cultural tradition in China. In 1979, China installed the stringent one-child policy which firmly controls second and higher order birth, although with a few exceptions which allow couples to have two children. Thus to explore son preference value and its connection with second order birth is of great interest. With birth history data of 2412 women between 18 to 52 years old from 2006 China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) conducted in 9 provinces, this paper examines son preference from the effects of sex of the first child on women's second birth risks from 1972 -2006 through multivariate analysis. Second birth risks are estimated by multiplicative intensity regression model. Sex of the first child is the major covariate in this paper, together with control variables of women's age, educational level, calendar year, household registration (Hukou), urban/rural residence, number of women's siblings and second birth interval. Structures of the effects of son preference in second birth rates are explored through interactions between sex of the first child and other covariates. Results show that rather than policy eligibility, son preference has strong impacts on risks of having another child, independent of individual demographic and socio-economic factors. When fertility is low, such as below-replacement fertility period from early 1990s, older ages in women's fertility career and last few years during the second birth spacing, motives to have a son plays an increasingly important role in women's second birth decisions. This paper also finds that the number of women's male siblings has positive effect on risks to bear a second child.


Stockholm University




Original title

Son Preference and Second Birth in China

Original language

  • English

Publication date


Affiliation (institution of first SU-affiliated author)

  • 310 Sociologiska institutionen | Department of Sociology