The Demographic Consequences of Sex-Selection Technology

Qi Li, University of Chicago
Juan Pantano, Washington University in St. Louis

Over the last several years highly accurate methods of sex selection before conception have been developed. Given strong preferences for sex variety in offspring documented for the U.S., we move beyond bio-ethical considerations and ask what the demographic consequences of sex-selection technology could be. Lacking variation across space and time in access to this technology, we estimate a dynamic programming model of fertility decisions with microdata on fertility histories from the NSFG. After recovering preferences for sex variety, we simulate the introduction of this technology. While this technology can reduce fertility by allowing parents efficiently reach their preferred sex mix, it could also increase fertility. This is because without this technology, many parents may opt not to have another baby given the uncertainty about its sex. Results suggest that these two effects operate simultaneously, but on net, sex selection technology ends up increasing the total fertility rate among married women.

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Presented in Session 150: Sex Preferences and Sex Composition Effects on Fertility Intentions