The Relationship between Children’s Gender and the Divorce Rate

Chirag Malhotra, Siddharth Sarda, Guanru Wang


In this paper we analyse the impact of the gender of children on the stability of marriage. In order to analyse the issue we have conducted a survey with 40 people as well as utilised various economic theories such as the “father involvement hypothesis” (Morgan at al 1988), and Durkheim’s division of labour theory (1893). We conclude that having a male child can reduce the odds of divorce. DPIBE, Dec 2011 Gender and Divorce 28 1. INTRODUCTION This topic is intriguing primarily because the topic is as old as mankind itself. Previous studies have shown that the gender composition of a family’s children – particularly, the presence of male child – reduces the chances of divorce. Using a survey an d an economic interpretation, we analyse the channels in which this might operate. To explain the findings of our survey we use of the ‘father - involvement’ hypothesis by Morgan et al (1988). The hypothesis suggests that on average, the roles played by a father are greater with their male child and as a result they end up spending more time with their male child than with their female child. In turn the higher the level of a father’s involvement in the marriage, the l ower is the odds of divorce. However the same is not observed in women’s involvement (White 1990) . From an economic point of view the divorce rate is reciprocally associated with the specific investments made in a marriage by both the father and the mothe r. (Becker et al. 1977). A father’s presence and involvement during a child’s raising may result in various types of division of labour amongst the family. Durkheim’s (1893) theory says that fathers who have more presence during a child’s rearing may resul t in the creation of an additional dependence amongst spouses. There will be an increased division of labour within the household, where husband and wife tend to be more reliant on the other to fulfil their economic function. This form of solidarity is cal led ‘organic solidarity’ by Durkheim because individuals with different functions and mentalities are contracting with each other. Taken together with Morgan et al’s hypothesis, we can say that families with boys tend to exercise more organic solidarity (D iekmann & Schmidheiny 2002) . 2. DEMAND FOR CHILDREN Marriage is a market. People transact in it primarily because it can produce a benefit that other markets cannot; for instance, the benefits of having a family, a new life, living with the people you l ove and the development of positive emotions. If people invest and fail to get the expected returns, they may want a divorce. Since children are an important product of the marriage market, we begin the analysis by analysing the difference in the demand fo r

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