The Brother's Penalty: Son Preference and Girl's Health in China

56 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2022

See all articles by Yuli Ye

Yuli Ye

South China Agriculture University

Qiang Li

Guangzhou University

Lian An

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

We propose a novel apples-to-apples comparison strategy to identify the causal effect of son preference on child physical health from endogenous sibling gender composition. Using first-born boy ratio within a community as an instrument and data from the Chinese Family Panel Studies, we find that a girl, no matter whether she is a firstborn or a second born, is significantly 0.18 standard deviations shorter if she has a brother than otherwise had a sister, other things being equal. Falsification tests suggest the penalty does not result from sibling gender compositions or birth order. Our results are robust to using different growth charts and excluding gender-neutral ethnic minorities. Evidence shows that parents prefer sons over daughters when facing limited resources. Heterogeneity analyses show that son preference is prominent in rural areas. Nonetheless, not all girls are affected by son preference, with firstborns moderately affected, middleborns faring the worst, and thirdborns unaffected.

Keywords: son preference, gender inequality, sibling gender composition, sibship size, birth interval, China

Suggested Citation

Ye, Yuli and Li, Qiang and An, Lian, The Brother's Penalty: Son Preference and Girl's Health in China. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4033323 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4033323

Yuli Ye

South China Agriculture University ( email )

WU SHAN ROAD
TIANHE DISTRICT
Guangzhou, 510642

Qiang Li (Contact Author)

Guangzhou University ( email )

Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center
Waihuanxi Road 230
Guangzhou, 510006
China

Lian An

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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