Do Chinese Mothers in the United States Have More Male Births Than White Mothers?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:30
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Bethany DESALVO, U.S. Census Bureau, USA
Maria PEREZ-PATRON, Texas A&M University, USA
Huanjun ZHANG, Texas A&M University, USA
In China, the deeply-rooted Confucian cultural influences have stressed for thousands of years the importance for Chinese families of having one or more sons. Confucius is attributed to have stated that “Happiness is a hall full of sons,” and that “Having daughters is like weeding another man’s field.” When the birth rate is high, as it was in China for thousands of years up to the early 1970s, this was not a problem. When Chinese women were having six children on average, the probability was less than 2 percent that none of the six children would be male. But when the birth rate is low, as it is these days in China, it became more problematic to guarantee having a son. Hence many Chinese have relied on ultra-sound technologies and sex-specific abortions to guarantee they will have a son.

Our paper addresses the following question: do Chinese women and their families bring their Confucian culture regarding son preference with them when they immigrate to the United States? We use birth certificate data for the years 2003-2013 to test whether foreign-born Chinese mothers have a greater likelihood of having a male birth compared to U.S.-born Chinese mothers, and even more so compared to U.S.-born non-Hispanic white mothers. We expect to find that foreign-born Chinese mothers living in the U.S. do indeed have a statistically greater likelihood of having a male birth than do U.S.-born Chinese mothers, and that both groups of Chinese mothers have statistically greater likelihoods of having a male birth than do U.S.-born non-Hispanic white mothers.