The Historical Origins of Son Preference: Patrilocality and Missing Women

56 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2021

See all articles by Avraham Ebenstein

Avraham Ebenstein

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 19, 2021

Abstract

This study examines the historical origins of son preference. I test a hypothesis that son preference emerges from humanity’s adoption of intensive agriculture for subsistence. This increases the incentive to adopt patrilocal residence norms after marriage, and for sons to care for their parents during old age. Consistent with this hypothesis, I present evidence that the descendants of societies which engaged in intensive agriculture have higher rates of coresidence with sons and higher sex ratios at birth today. This is found when looking across countries, within countries across regions, and within regions across ethnic groups. The results highlight the connection between historical subsistence patterns and modern demographic outcomes.

Keywords: sex ratios, son preference, patrilocality

JEL Classification: J13, J16

Suggested Citation

Ebenstein, Avraham, The Historical Origins of Son Preference: Patrilocality and Missing Women (April 19, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3829406 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3829406

Avraham Ebenstein (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Israel

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