Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance,
Stockholm School of Economics

No 651: Maternal Longevity and the Sex of Offspring: Evidence from Pre-Industrial Sweden

David Cesarini (), Erik Lindqvist () and Björn Wallace ()
Additional contact information
David Cesarini: Department of Economics, MIT, Postal: Department of Economics , Massachusetts Institute of Technology , 50 Memorial Drive , E52-391 , Cambridge, MA 02142
Erik Lindqvist: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
Björn Wallace: Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Helle et al. (2002) used data from Finnish parish records to study the cost of bearing sons vis-à-vis daughters in terms of postmenopausal longevity and found a large and significant cost associated with sons. In this paper, we replicate and extend their analysis on a larger dataset of pre-modern Swedish women and find no evidence of a negative relative impact of sons. Neither do we find any evidence for the resource competition hypothesis put forth by Van de Putte et al. (2004), despite the relative poverty of our study population. This suggests that the effects found in Helle et al. (2002) were not a general feature of life in pre-modern populations. Finally, we raise some concerns regarding the methodology used and inferences made in previous studies on the topic.

Keywords: maternal longevity; sons; demography

JEL-codes: I10; J13

20 pages, January 26, 2007

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