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Previous evidence suggests that the gender composition of a family's children--specifically, the presence of sons--affects a number of parental behaviors, including marriage formation, marriage disruption, and living arrangements. Using the March Current Population Survey from 1988 to 2006, this paper examines whether girls are at a double disadvantage in terms of living in single mother homes, and in the likelihood of receiving child support from absent fathers. The findings show that girls are indeed more likely to live in single mother homes and boys are overrepresented in married parent homes with a father or stepfather, and in single father families. However, the child support results suggest if anything that single mothers are slightly disadvantaged by having sons.


First published in:

American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 2008, 98:2, 408–412



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