Sibling Sex Ratio and Sexual Orientation in Men and Women: New Tests in Two National Probability Samples

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Abstract

One line of research on the etiology of sexual orientation has examined sibling sex ratio, the ratio of brothers to sisters collectively reported by a group of individuals, but this research has only used clinical and/or convenience samples. In the present study, homosexual men and women’s sibling sex ratio was examined in two national probability samples. Results indicated that homosexual men had a sex ratio of 129.54 male live births to 100 female live births. This ratio was within the range of elevated sex ratios found in some previous studies of homosexual men, although it was only marginally significant (p = .09) relative to the known human sex ratio with regard to live births. Additional analyses indicated that this effect was likely the result of a high fraternal birth order (i.e., an elevated number of older brothers) in homosexual men. The sibling sex ratio for lesbians was 122.58 male live births to 100 female live births, which did not significantly differ from the known human sex ratio with regard to live births. The results for lesbians, however, should be interpreted with caution because the sample size (and resulting power) was low. The results in men add to research suggesting that homosexual men, unselected for gender identity or gender role behavior, do not have elevated sibling sex ratios. These results also suggest that research should concentrate on finding the cause(s) of the fraternal birth order effect, the consistent finding that homosexual men have an elevated number of older brothers.

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Correspondence to Anthony F. Bogaert Ph.D..

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Bogaert, A.F. Sibling Sex Ratio and Sexual Orientation in Men and Women: New Tests in Two National Probability Samples. Arch Sex Behav 34, 111–116 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-005-1005-9

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Keywords:

  • sexual orientation
  • homosexuality
  • sibling sex ratio
  • fraternal birth order