MPIDR Working Paper

Girls preferred? Changing patterns of gender preferences in the two German states

Brockmann, H.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-1999-010
Rostock, Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (September 1999)
Open Access


Parental preferences for the sex of children are a prominent subject of study in some Asian and African countries where sex-selective behavior has led to skewed sex-ratios. In Europe or North-America, by contrast, cross-sectional data does not reveal any clear pattern of sex-preferences. However, this does not mean that people are indifferent to the sex of their children. Taking a longitudinal perspective, this paper shows how sex-preferences in Germany have changed over time and in response to changes in welfare regime. Based on German cohort data, event-history models reveal a significant boy-preference among women born before 1910 during the German Reich. After the world war II, women in West-Germany never developed a clear sex-preference, but cohorts born in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) show a significant preference for girls. This pattern is absorbed by the pro-family policy that was launched by the socialist regime during the seventies. In conclusion, the paper argues that the process of modernization does not neutralize sex-preferences as is often assumed. Rather, it may give rise to diverging sex-preferences depending on the specific type of welfare regime. (AUTHOR)
Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.