Children's sex affects parents' marital status

May 23, 2006

Parents with a boy and a girl are more likely to stay married, or get married if they were unmarried when their children were born, than those with two boys or two girls according to new research from ANU economist Dr Andrew Leigh.

About eight out of ten parents are married, while one in ten parents have never married and one in ten are divorced. Could parents’ decision to get married, stay married or divorce be related to the sex of their children?

In an analysis entitled Does Child Gender Affect Marital Status? Dr Leigh analysed 60,000 families from the past five Australian Censuses. He found small but significant effects of the sex of children on their parents’ marital status.

“Among two-child families, parents with two children of the same sex are 1.7 percentage points less likely to be married than parents with a boy and a girl,” Dr Leigh reported.

“It appears that parents are more likely to be married if they have both a boy and a girl than if they have two boys or two girls.

“Surveys of parental attitudes suggest that these effects are more likely to be driven by fathers than by mothers.

“On one level, the fact that children’s gender affects marital status may seem surprising. But it is consistent with another well-known fact, which is that families with two children of the same sex are significantly more likely to try for a third child than families with a boy and a girl.

“If having two children of the same sex increases the chance that some parents will have a third child, then it is perhaps not surprising that it also increases the chances of separation.”

The study also tested whether sons or daughters had a differential effect on marriage rates, and found no evidence of such an effect.

“While United States research has shown that parents of daughters are more likely to divorce, I find no such impact in Australia,” Dr Leigh reported. “But among two-child families, one of each seems better for relationships than two of a kind.”

Source: Australian National University

Explore further: India has 21 million 'unwanted' girls

Related Stories

India has 21 million 'unwanted' girls

January 29, 2018
The desire of Indian parents for sons has created an estimated 21 million "unwanted" girls because couples keep having children until they produce a boy, the government said Monday.

Female genital mutilation continues as change comes slowly

February 6, 2018
The 25-year-old Kedija had her external genitalia removed and her vagina sewn up when she was just seven days old. She has faced a lifetime of pain.

A parent's guide to ending sexual harassment and assault

December 14, 2017
The resignation of three members of Congress – John Conyers, Al Franken and Trent Franks – should serve as a reminder to parents to talk to their children about sexual misconduct.

Rising HIV infections see Iran challenge notions about sex

November 29, 2017
In a square in a poor eastern Tehran neighborhood known for its drug addicts and dealers, psychologist Atefeh Azimi draws another drop of blood from a worried passer-by's finger.

Children of married parents less likely to be obese

May 22, 2013
Children living in households where the parents are married are less likely to be obese, according to new research from Rice University and the University of Houston.

Same-sex couples' kids less likely to have private health insurance, study finds

September 16, 2013
(HealthDay)—Children of same-sex parents are less likely than their peers to have private health insurance, but the disparity shrinks in states that recognize legal same-sex unions, a new U.S. study finds.

Recommended for you

Young children use physics, not previous rewards, to learn about tools

February 23, 2018
Children as young as seven apply basic laws of physics to problem-solving, rather than learning from what has previously been rewarded, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge.

Study tracks evolutionary transition to destructive cancer

February 23, 2018
Evolution describes how all living forms cope with challenges in their environment, as they struggle to persevere against formidable odds. Mutation and selective pressure—cornerstones of Darwin's theory—are the means ...

Glaucoma study finds brain fights to preserve vision

February 23, 2018
A team of researchers, led by David Calkins, Ph.D., vice chair and director of Research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, has made a breakthrough discovery in the field of glaucoma showing new hopes for treatments to preserve ...

Researchers use a molecular Trojan horse to deliver chemotherapeutic drug to cancer cells

February 23, 2018
A research team at the University of California, Riverside has discovered a way for chemotherapy drug paclitaxel to target migrating, or circulating, cancer cells, which are responsible for the development of tumor metastases.

Ambitious global virome project could mark end of pandemic era

February 23, 2018
Rather than wait for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Zika to become outbreaks that force the world to react, a new global initiative seeks to proactively identify, prepare for and stop viral threats before they become pandemics.

Study: Tinder loving cheaters—dating app facilitates infidelity

February 23, 2018
The popular dating app Tinder is all about helping people form new relationships. But for many college-aged people, it's also helping those in relationships cheat on their romantic partners.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.