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October 02, 2003

Boys vs. girls

Vinod points me to this post by enfant terrible of cultural economics (?) Tyler Cowen commenting on a Steve Landsburg piece titled "Do girls cause divorce"? The only thing I suggest is that the authors read papers like this one, titled: Differential infant mortality viewed from an evolutionary biological perspective (pdf)-or articles like these. Humans are jigsaw puzzles-one should examine all the pieces before putting it all together....

Update: FuturePundit comments.

P.S. my maternal grandmother had 7 children, 6 sons, 1 daughter. My mother has had 5 pregnancies, 4 sons and 1 daughter (one of the sons was stillborn). I know a woman who is one of many sisters, and all her sisters have only daughters as well.

Posted by razib at 04:36 PM




Bryan Sykes's new book 'Adam's Curse' includes some good evidence that the sex ratio in particular families can be distorted towards producing boys or girls. It's all to do with the conflict between mitochondria (which want girls) and Y-chromosomes (which want boys). Sometimes one wins, sometimes the other.

I am writing a review of the book and will post it after the weekend.

Posted by: David B at October 3, 2003 12:43 AM


I had already heard elsewhere that divorced women with boys children were more likely to get remarried than those with girl children. The hypothesis that boys make a marriage more attractive (to a prospective male marriage partner) has already been put forward. I think that it is also possible that women perceive their boys' future success to be more greatly affected by the presence of a man in the house, and so are willing to sacrifice more to obtain a mate if they have a male child. This could be either because a male role model is thought to be important, or because the resources and associated social status a man might bring would have more effect on a boy's later success than a girl's. Hard to say.
The Krummhoern data that is mentioned in the paper you link to is interesting, but that would have to be considered an unusual case - the marriage and inheritance laws, combined with the geography of the region, created some rather perverse incentives.

Posted by: bbartlog at October 3, 2003 07:57 AM


i read once that waste to hip ratio had a mild correlation with the gender of possible children-women with high ratios (more linear) having more sons, while curvier women (low ratios) had more girls. i couldn't find it with google or pubmed, so mebee it was in my head....

Posted by: razib at October 3, 2003 07:55 PM