Boys, Girls, and Grandparents: The Impact of the Sex of Preschool-Age Children on Family Living Arrangements and Maternal Labour Supply
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Asia Health Policy Program working paper # 44



This paper considers how the sex of preschool-age children can affect their extended families’ living arrangements and its implications on maternal labour supply. Using China Health and Nutrition Survey data, we find that among less educated mothers, the incidence of co-residing with the paternal grandmother is at least 8.6 percentage points higher if the firstborn is a boy. At the same time, maternal labour supply increases by 2.892 days per month. By contrast, for educated mothers who have comparatively high opportunity costs of missing work, the propensity of co residence is higher and the working hours are longer relative to the less educated, regardless of the child sex.  These findings are consistent with our premise that son preference and labour division between generations are the two main driving forces of co residence. In particular, the findings indicate that among families with a less educated mother, the child gender disparity in co residence and maternal labour supply are especially manifest. This paper not only lends empirical support on policies aiming to improve the wellbeing of girls, but serves as a good example to demonstrate the importance of including living arrangement in the framework in empirical research examining intra household allocations.

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