Author: Nahid Tavassoli
This paper explores the existence of son preference and gender-based fertility behavior among Southeast Asian mothers. Using census data of ten countries (Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam) over the years 1970-2014 and a sample of over 18 million observations, I show that having a first-born girl is associated with 0.16 more children in the household, equivalent to 7.2 percent rise from the mean. The marginal effects are quite robust across various specifications and subsamples. The effects are larger for countries with a lower human development index and individuals with lower education. A birth cohort analysis shows that the effects are significantly smaller for later cohorts implying that son preference fertility behavior has diminished over time.