Journal Article

Sex composition of children as a determinant of marriage disruption and marriage formation: evidence from Swedish register data

Andersson, G., Woldemicael, G.

Journal of Population Research, 18:2, 143-153 (2001)

Keywords: Sweden, divorce, marriage


This paper investigates the effect of sex composition of children on the propensity of Swedish mothers to enter and leave marriage. Swedish population-register data are used to estimate relative risks of marriage formation and marriage dissolution for mothers with different numbers and sexes of children. The large number of observations allows us to get a very accurate picture of such relationships even if they are relatively weak. Morgan et al. (1988) used survey data for the US and claimed to have found that one- and two-child parents in that country had lower divorce risks if they had sons than if they had daughters. For Sweden, we find only a minor effect in the same direction for three-child mothers. For two-child mothers, we instead find that the divorce risk is slightly reduced if a woman has one child of each sex. The divorce risk of one-child mothers is not at all affected by the sex of the child. Finally, the sex composition of children has no effect on the propensity of Swedish mothers to enter the married state.