Thirty-six percent of parents surveyed by Gallup say they’d prefer a boy if they could only have one child, while 28% want a girl.
Americans would still prefer to have a son over a daughter if they were only allowed to have one kid, according to a recent Gallup poll, continuing a decades-long favoritism. Thirty-six percent of respondents indicated preference for a boy, while 28% said they’d want a girl. The other 36% said they had no preference or opinion.
The poll’s eight-point gap between preferences for a boy and a girl clocks in slightly below average: Over the 11 times that Gallup has posed the question since 1941, Americans have preferred boys to girls by an average 11-point gap. The disparity was largest in 1947 and 2000 (15%) and smallest in 1990 (4%).
Men’s preference for having a boy is a key driver, as they’ve leaned toward boys over girls by 25 points on average over the years. Women, meanwhile, have opted for girls by a modest three points on average. Forty-three percent of men in the present survey said they’d prefer a boy, compared to 24% who wanted a girl — a 19% difference. But nearly equal proportions of women chose girls and boys (31% and 30%, respectively).
“Americans’ preferences for male or female children have been evident for decades, with slightly more than a third indicating they have no preference, but with those who have a choice preferring boys over girls,” the report concluded. “This ‘boy preference’ is largely because men would rather have boys.”
Preference for a boy in the current survey was also most pronounced among younger Americans, according to Gallup: Nearly half (48%) of people aged 18 to 29 opted for a boy, compared to 31% who wanted a girl, a 17-point gap. In contrast, the 30 to 49 crowd had a six-point gap; those aged 50 to 64 had an 11-point gap; and people 65 and up preferred boys by just four points. The youngest age bracket was also the most likely to express a preference at all.
Despite Gallup’s trends, a working paper earlier this year signaled a shift in Americans’ preferences on this front. Having a girl instead of a boy once prompted parents to have more kids, “theoretically to try for a son,” the New York Times reported in March — but now, the research found, having a girl actually makes parents less likely to continue having children. “Some data from adoptions and fertility procedures that allow parents to choose the sex of their baby also shows a preference, to varying degrees, for girls,” added The Times.
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