, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 541–566 | Cite as

Son Preference, Fertility Decline, and the Nonmissing Girls of Turkey

  • Onur AltindagEmail author


Couples in Turkey exhibit son preference through son-biased differential stopping behavior that does not cause a sex ratio imbalance in the population. Demand for sons leads to lower ratios of boys to girls in larger families but higher ratios in smaller families. Girls are born earlier than their male siblings, and son-biased fertility behavior is persistent in response to decline in fertility over time and across households with parents from different backgrounds. Parents use contraceptive methods to halt fertility following a male birth. The sibling sex composition is associated with gender disparities in health. Among third- or later-born children, female infant mortality is 1.5 percentage points lower if the previous sibling is male. The female survival advantage, however, disappears if the previous sibling is female. Having an older female sibling shifts the gender gap in infant mortality rate by 2 percentage points in favor of males. The improvement in infant mortality is strongest in favor of males who have no older male siblings.


Son preference Stopping rules Turkey Infant health 



I thank three anonymous referees who provided insightful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. I received valuable input from Ted Joyce, Wim Vijverberg, Stephen O’Connell, Mike Grossman, David Jaeger, and Alper Dinçer. Seminar participants at CUNY Institute for Demographic Research, The Graduate Center, Bahçeşehir University, Hunter College, and Koç University provided extensive and helpful comments. Special thanks go to the Schindler sisters for their editorial feedback.

Supplementary material

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Online resource 1 (PDF 370 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics, The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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