Journal of Population Research

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

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

  • Gunnar AnderssonEmail author
  • Gebremariam Woldemicael


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. Morganet 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.


Gender Preference Marital Stability Paternal Involvement Marriage Formation Divorce Risk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Andersson, G. 1997. The impact of children on divorce risks of Swedish women.European Journal of Population 13:109–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson, G. 1998: Trends in marriage formation in Sweden 1971–1993.European Journal of Population 14:157–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnold, F. 1997a. Gender preferences for children.Demographic and Health Surveys Comparative Studies No. 23. Calverton MD: Macro International Inc.Google Scholar
  4. Arnold, F. 1997b. Gender preferences for children: findings from the Demographic and Health Surveys Pp. 989–1023 inProceedings of the 23rd IUSSP International Population Conference. Beijing, Vol. 3. Liège: IUSSP.Google Scholar
  5. Becker, G.S. 1981.A Treatise on the Family. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bongaarts J. 1998. Fertility and reproductive preferences in post-transitional societies.Population Council, Policy Research Division Working Paper No. 114. New York: Population Council.Google Scholar
  7. Bracher, M., G. Santow, S.P. Morgan and J. Trussell. 1993. Marriage dissolution in Australia: models and explanations.Population Studies 47:403–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Diekmann, A. and K. Schmidheiny. 2001. Do parents of girls really have a higher risk of divorce? Results from an eighteen country study with the Fertility and Family Survey.Working Paper. Bern: Institute of Sociology, University of Bern.Google Scholar
  9. Hank, K. and H.-P. Kohler. 2000. Gender preferences for children in Europe: empirical results from 17 FFS countries.Demographic Research [Online] 2. Available Scholar
  10. Hoem, J.M. 1991. To marry, just in case …: the Swedish widow's-pension reform and the peak in marriages in December 1989.Acta Sociologica 34:127–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jacobsen, R., H. Møller and G. Engholm. 1999. Fertility rates in Denmark, in relation to the sexes of preceding children in the family.Human Reproduction 14:1127–1130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Marleau, J.D. and M. Maheu. 1998. Un garçon ou une fille? Le choix des femmes et des hommes à l'égard d'un seul enfant.Population 53:1033–1042.Google Scholar
  13. Marleau, J.D. and J.-F. Saucier. 1996 Influence du sexe des premiers enfants sur le comportement reproducteur: une étude canadienne.Population 51:460–464.Google Scholar
  14. Merrill, D. and J. Casterline. 1989. Children's gender and marital dissolution: evidence from developing countries. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Baltimore, 30 March–1 April.Google Scholar
  15. Morgan, S.P., D. Lye and G. Condran. 1988. Sons, daughters, and the risk of marital disruption.American Journal of Sociology 94:110–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Schullström, Y. 1996. Garçon ou fille? Les préférences pour le sexe des enfants dans les générations suédoises 1946–1975.Population 51:1243–1245.Google Scholar
  17. Wagner, M. 1997.Scheidung in Ost- und Westdeutschland: zum Verhältnis von Ehestabilität und Sozialstruktur seit der 30er Jahren. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
  18. Walke, R. 2001. Twins or two single children: the influence of the multiplicity of the first birth on the divorce risk of Swedish women.MPIDR Working Paper WP 2001-029. Rostock: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.Google Scholar
  19. White, L. 1990. Determinants of divorce: a review of research in the eighties.Journal of Marriage and the Family 52:904–912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Yamaguchi, K. and L. Ferguson. 1995. The stopping and spacing of childbirths and their birth-history predictors: rational-choice theory and event-history analysis.American Sociological Review 60:272–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AsmaraEritrea
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Demographic ResearchRostockGermany

Personalised recommendations