A longitudinal study of son and daughter preference among Chinese only-children from adolescence to adulthood

Sung Won Kim, Vanessa L. Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this mixed-method longitudinal study, we examined the continuity of son preference and daughter preference from adolescence to adulthood, and investigated how perceptions of gender equity shape these preferences among 2,273 youth born in Dalian between 1979 and 1986 under the one-child policy. The majority expressed no preference in adolescence or adulthood. Results from multivariate analysis and the narratives of 23 participants revealed that child gender preferences in adolescence were predictive of later preferences in adulthood. Furthermore, in adolescence, child gender preferences were associated with individuals’ beliefs about gender as manifested in their attitudes towards women and employment, as well as their perceptions of parental and social gender biases against women. Our findings suggest that increasingly gender-egalitarian attitudes in urban China shape the child gender preferences of singleton youth in adolescence, and are likely to contribute to their later childbearing decisions, with important social and demographic implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalChina Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* This article is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0845748. All opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The research for this article was also supported by a Beinecke Brothers Memorial Fellowship, an Andrew W. Mellon Grant, a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a grant from the Weatherhead Center at Harvard University, a postdoctoral fellowship at the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Demography Fund Research Grant, a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at Cambridge University, a grant from the Harvard University China Fund, grants from the Harvard University Asia Center, and a grant from the Harvard University William F. Milton Fund. We thank Kari-Elle Brown, Stephen Koenig, Yun Zhu, Lisa Hsiao, March Zhengyuan Fan, Emily Bai, Lizzy Austadt, Edward Kim, Dian Yu, Kunali Gurditta, Raysa Cabrejo, Claire Jia, Eli Harris and Yi Lu for their advice and assistance. 1. Christophe Guilmoto, “Skewed Sex Ratios at Birth and Future Marriage Squeeze in China and India, 2005–2100”, Demography, Vol. 49, No. 1 (Winter 2012), pp. 77–100; Quanbao Jiang, Shuzhuo Li and Marcus

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 by The Australian National University. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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