Women favor daughters, men favor sons

Rutgers study says findings may have implications for rising income inequality, social mobility.


A new study led by scientists from the Rutgers University-New Brunswick found that women mostly invest more in daughters whereas men invest more in their sons.

Lee Cronk, a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said, “Our research may help people be better parents if we become aware of our unconscious biases towards different kinds of children.”

Experts carried out an online experiment to examine the 1973 Trivers-Willard hypothesis, where they found that wealthy parents prefer and invest in sons, whereas poor parents would choose to invest in daughters.

According to Cronk, who works in the School of Arts and Sciences, “Participants completed a task that, based on previous research, fosters feelings of relative poverty or relative wealth. Then the researchers measured participants’ preferences for daughters and sons in several ways.”

“They included an opportunity to pledge money to a charity that largely supports girls or boys; a test that discretely measures participants’ attitudes; gauging preferences for the sex of children they might adopt; and assessing the sex ratio they would prefer in their own offspring.”

Test results showed that the participants sec had a strong impression sexes parents preferred for their offspring. Females preferences were inclined towards daughters whereas males had a fading preference for daughter. However, they considerably prefer sons and investing in them.

The study says, “These results may also have implications for rising income inequality and intergenerational social mobility.”

“A recent study using the tax records of 40 million Americans between 1996 and 2012 showed that the single best predictor of lower intergenerational social mobility was having a single or divorced parent. Because most of these single parents are females, and females prefer daughters, we might expect even lower reduced intergenerational mobility for the sons of these single mothers.”

The study of gender biases published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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