, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 1641–1662 | Cite as

Gender Bias in Parental Attitude: An Experimental Approach

  • Lutfunnahar Begum
  • Philip J. Grossman
  • Asadul Islam


Parental bias toward children of a particular gender has been widely observed in many societies. Such bias could be due to pure gender preference or differences in earning opportunities and concern for old-age support. We conduct a high-stakes allocation task (subjects allocate the equivalent of one day’s wages between male and female school-aged students) in rural Bangladesh to examine parental attitudes toward male and female children. Parents, either jointly or individually, allocated freely or restricted endowments for the benefit of anonymous girls or boys at a nearby school. We examine whether there is any systematic bias among fathers and mothers and, if so, whether such bias differs when they make the decision individually or jointly. The results suggest (1) bias both for and against boys or girls but no systematic bias by either parent; and (2) no significant differences in individual and joint decisions.


Parental bias Gender Allocation task Field experiment 



We thank Lisa Cameron, Tim Cason, Gaurav Datt, Catherine Eckel, Lata Gangadharan, Glenn Harrison, John List, Yasuyuki Sawada, Russell Smyth, and Steven Stillman. We also thank the participants at the Australian Development Economics Workshop in Canberra, the Econometric Society Australasian Meeting in Sydney, the Asia Pacific Meeting of the Economic Science Association in Auckland, Monash University seminars, and Economic Research Group in Dhaka for their valuable comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this article.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lutfunnahar Begum
    • 1
  • Philip J. Grossman
    • 2
  • Asadul Islam
    • 3
  1. 1.National Board of RevenueDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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