The Daughter Tax: Maternal Consequences of Female Children in Twenty-Eight Developing Countries

Abigail Weitzman, New York University (NYU)

Most demographers agree that parental resources contribute to variation in child wellbeing, yet few have considered the inverse. This article proposes that mothers of girls specifically incur a daughter tax, or, consequences resulting from the higher cost and lower status of daughters. To advance this argument the author utilizes Demographic and Health Survey data collected from twenty-eight industrializing countries between 2000 and 2010 to determine the effects of daughters on domestic violence, maternal labor force participation, marital status, and husband’s presence in the home. Results suggest that mothers who bear daughters pay a high cost, facing an increased likelihood of domestic violence or divorce, a decreased likelihood of marrying, and a decreased likelihood that husbands will live at home even if they are married. Several levels of analyses illuminate the ways in which gender based status, family dynamics, and economic development operate together within the home.

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Presented in Session 42: Cross-Cultural Studies of Child Development