Daughter preference in Japan: A reflection on gender role attitudes?
Social sciences (General)
Demography. Population. Vital events
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AbstractBACKGROUND Unlike other East Asian nations where preference for sons over daughters still prevails, gender preference for children in Japan has progressively shifted from son preference to a noticeable daughter preference over the past few decades. This emergence of daughter preference is surprising given that gender relations are more traditional in Japan than in other advanced countries. OBJECTIVE I focus on the extent to which individuals' gender preferences are shaped by their gender role attitudes and evaluate whether daughter preference is a reflection of convergence or a persistent divergence in gender roles in Japan. METHODS I use data from the Single Persons subset of the 11th Japanese National Fertility Survey conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research in 1997. Using multinomial logistic regression, I estimate the relationship between Japanese singles' gender role attitudes and their type of gender preference for children. RESULTS Findings suggest that the effect of gender role attitudes on one's child gender preference differs for men and women. Overall, while daughter preference is associated with nontraditional gender role attitudes for men, daughter preference is associated with traditional attitudes for women. CONCLUSIONS Traditionalism is still driving gender preference, though in a different way for men and women. Emerging daughter preference may not simply be a reflection of improvements in women's status, but in fact it is likely that persistent divergence in gender roles remain in Japan.