Interactions of socioeconomic determinants, offspring sex preference, and fertility behaviour

  • Zongli Tang Department of Sociology, Auburn University Montgomery
  • Paul M. Sharp Department of Sociology, Auburn University Montgomery


Using path anaysis and the 5 per cent PUMS data of the 1990 and 2000 [US] censuses, this study examines: (1) the correlation between Chinese-American sex preference for children and their fertility behavior; and (2) the interaction between the sex preference and its socioeconomic determinants. Of the normative and non-normative factors investigated in this study, offspring sex preference is the greatest stimulus to Chinese fertility. Of the socioeconomic variables, women’s educational attainment plays a primary role in depressing the impact of son preference, in addition to their increasing stay in the host society. However, these two factors do not work on husbands in the same way, demonstrating men’s inflexible attitudes toward gender roles in the family and in society. Son preference exerts a positive impact on American-Chinese fertility and prevents further decline; still, this influence has been diminishing since 1990, as observed in this study.