Gallup poll finds American men prefer sons

Cristen Conger

Since 1941, American men have expressed a preference for sons over daughters. Gallup poll data stretching back decades reveal that the proportion of both men and women who say that they'd rather have a son than a daughter has barely fluctuated, always hovering around 40 percent. Broken down by the gender, the poll shows that 49 percent of men wants boys over girls. By contrast, women are pretty evenly divided on the issue, with around a third wanting a boy, a third wanting a girl and a third not caring either way.

Gallup asked participants the following question: "Suppose you could only have one child. Would you prefer that it be a boy or a girl?"

The New York Times Economix blog was perplexed with the poll, unable to pinpoint any cultural motivations for the son preference. For instance, while men might earn more money, women tend to care for elderly parents. Some blog readers attributed it to a patriarchal society, and others thought it was simply "easier" to raise boys.

I don't think there's any simple answer to the question, other than perhaps men feel like they could relate to sons easier than daughters. One reader did present an interesting contrast with gender preference and adoption:

When my husband and I looked into adoption (and our preference was for a little girl), we were told by our agency that prospective adoptive parents in the US overwhelmingly preferred girls to boys. So there may well be a different dynamic when couples are thinking about their own biological children versus adopted children - perhaps men have a desire to reproduce themselves in essence by having a son but are less willing to raise the sons of other men.

Any insight on this issue, fellows?

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