The reason couples who have a son are more likely to stay together

A study has suggested the gender of a couple's children can affect their likelihood of divorcing

A study has revealed that couples who have a firstborn son are more likely to stay together.

The results of the study come from Gordon Dahl, an economics professor from the University of California in San Diego. Dahl looked at US Census data and discovered that men are both more likely to propose if they know their partner is pregnant with a boy and are also less likely to divorce if their firstborn child is male.

Previous studies by the University of California have shown that divorced mothers with daughters are also less likely to remarry than divorced mothers with sons, and the break-up rate of couples with daughters is 10% higher if the couple have three daughters or more.

A range of conclusions have been drawn from this data. Some psychologists have suggested these studies could indicate that mothers with daughters are less likely to stay in an abusive relationship. However, the fact that fathers are more likely to propose to a partner expecting their son suggests simple gender bias might be to blame, with men placing higher importance on father-son bonding than father-daughter bonding.

The gender bias idea certainly tallies up with a survey conducted in the US in 2011, where a Gallup poll showed that twice as many American men would rather have a son than a daughter. ‘In the poll, conducted June 9-12’ went the findings, ‘men favour a boy over a girl by a 49% to 22% margin. American women do not have a proportionate preference for girls. Instead, women show essentially no preference either way: 31% say they would prefer a boy and 33% would prefer a girl.’

Professor Dahl’s studies have pointed out that ‘in any given year [in America] roughly 52,000 first-born daughters younger than 12 years (and all their siblings) would have had a resident father if they had been boys.’

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