Baby Girl First, Divorce May be Next

Baby Girl First, Divorce May be Next

You’re More Likely to Get Divorced — Slightly — if Your First Child is a Girl, Study Shows

If your first child is a girl you’re more like to divorce than if your first baby is a boy, according to a study produced by Dr. Enrico Moretti, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Dr. Gordon Dahl, professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego.
Their report,

Their report, The Demand for Sons,” appeared in a recent edition of The Review of Economic Studies.” Your divorce rate increases approximately four percent if you have a daughter as a first child instead of a son,” Moretti said recently.

So what happens if a woman has three daughters and no boys? Does her chance of divorce triple? We don’t know what the effects of having multiple girls might be. We did compare families who had two daughters with families that had two sons. What we discovered was that a couple with two daughters is more likely to have a third child trying to have a son,” Moretti explained.

Asked whether there is a difference in the divorce rate between various races or ethnicities that have a daughter first, the Berkeley economics professor said, We don’t believe there is any difference between races, but it’s hard to compare divorce rates across races.”

At the same time, Moretti said, Women whose first child is a boy are four percent more likely to remain married than those whose first child is a girl. In general, the better the woman’s education, the later the fertility the lower the divorce rate.”

In the preface to their 50-page study on gender and divorce Moretti and Dahl contend, Overall, a first-born daughter is significantly less likely to be living with their father compared to a first-born son.”

They found three reasons for this:

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1. Women who have daughters first are less likely to be married.2. Parents with

2. Parents with firstborn daughters are more likely to be divorced.

3. Fathers are more likely to obtain custody of a son than a daughter.

The effect is quantitatively substantial, accounting for a 3.1 percent lower probability of a resident father for families with a first-born girl. We estimate that in any given year (in the U.S.) roughly 52,000 first-born daughters under the age of 12 would have had a resident father if they had been boys,” the report says.

There are a bunch of other statistical differences caused by families with first-born daughters. The Moretti-Dahl study says that these families have lower incomes and higher poverty rates. For children in families with an absentee father due to the first-born daughter effect, family income is reduced by 50 percent and the chances of poverty are increased by 34 percent. Notably, children whose first-born sibling is a girl have lower educational achievement,” the study maintains.

There are other places in the world where girl children are considered a substantial detriment. For example, in China where the government has practiced female infanticide for decades. Taken together, the weight of the evidence supports the notion that parents in the United States favor boys over girls,” the Moretti-Dahl study says.

Professor Robert Friar, a professor of biology at Ferris State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., said when told about Moretti’s and Dahl’s study on gender bias for girls that the two UCLA economic professors was total garbage.” They are years behind the times if they think there is a gender bias in favor of boys today in this country. Why do colleges give special preferences to boys instead of girls?” Friar said.

The cause of divorced is because two people who had no business getting married did so. Sex is another reason why people divorced, they get involved in sex too soon and then after four or five years of marriage they find they get sex elsewhere,” he said.

Dr. Friar added If their study only shows a 4 percent difference in divorce rate when your first child is a girl that figure is insignificant when you’re talking about the entire country. I think 4 percent is a fluke. I suspicion the number of people they interviewed was very small, less than 100 couples.”The one area they all agreed on, Friar said, It is true that most couples prefer a baby boy over a baby girl for their first child.”

Professor Alan Booth, distinguished professor of sociology, human development and demography at Pennsylvania State University, generally agreed with most of Moretti’s and Dahl’s findings in their study on the increase in divorce rates among couples whose first child is a girl. I know this to be true. Families that have a boy as a first child are more likely to stay together than if their first child is a female,” Professor Booth said. Gender bias in the U.S. favors boys. That part of their study is true, too.

He added, that one of the reasons married couples prefer boys over girls in this country is that generally speaking, boys grow up to make more money than girls. Another point in the UCLA economists’ report Booth agrees with is that couples who’s first two children are girls are more likely to have a third child than if they have two boys.

On the other hand, Dr. Booth noted, More recently the gender preference in the U.S. is beginning to be more positive for girls. This is because there are more women in the labor force today, women are more independent today than they once were, and women’s attitudes are less traditional and there are also other factors involved.”

Don Moore is a veteran newspaper editor and reporter who spent more than 40 years working at newspapers around Florida. He recently retired from the Port Charlotte, Fla., Sun-Herald. He can be reached at

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