If limited to one child, Americans would vouch for a baby boy, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Even more, opinions haven’t wavered much since the early 1940s.
In the poll, 40 percent of respondents reported wanting a boy, whereas 28 percent definitively wanted a girl. A large chunk — 26 percent — reported being fine with either sex. The results have fluctuated since the 1940s, when 38 percent of respondents preferred a boy, 24 percent — a girl, and 23 percent with no preference. Overall, not much has changed over the years.
In the mid-20th century, many factors reshaped the American family, including World War II, which may have influenced opinions about bearing boys. But we’re no longer living in 1941, one of the earliest years the organization surveyed Americans with the question.
So why has the yearning for a male offspring stayed the same?
It seems men’s wish to have sons remains the constant factor over the years. Today, nearly half of male respondents favored having a boy, while only 22 percent reported wanting a girl. Favoring one sex over the other wasn’t as skewed among women respondents, with 36 percent claiming indifference to the child’s sex. Only 2 percent of women responded wanting a girl more than a boy.
The poll also found an interesting relationship between age and sex preference: The younger respondents were, the more likely they were to prefer boys over girls. With age, however, both men and women seem more flexible about having babies of either sex.
Education and political leanings also revealed smaller trends, as scholarship beyond high school loosened preference for boys. In addition, left leaners and liberals showed less interest for boys and a greater preference for girls.
Americans favoring boys isn’t as extreme in other cultures, which are now seeing large demographic changes. Yet as touched on in the Gallup post, Americans have the opportunity to act on their preferences through home kits and medical procedures, regardless of their safety or long-term consequences.
Other work suggests that sons are more likely to live under joint custody if their parents divorce. Another analysis also found boys to be more likely than girls to live with their fathers. This might be because fathers have closer relationships to their sons, the author writes. There’s also evidence that parents of daughters are more likely to divorce or be separated than parents who have a son together.
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