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Title: Do American Mothers Treat Sons and Daughters Alike?
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Armstrong, Elizabeth M.
Weiss, Christopher C.
Do American Mothers Treat Sons and Daughters Alike?
Presented: San Francisco, CA, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2004
Cohort(s): Children of the NLSY79, NLSY79
Publisher: American Sociological Association
Keyword(s): Child Care; Child Health; Gender Attitudes/Roles; Gender Differences; Infants; Parent-Child Interaction; Parenting Skills/Styles; Pre-natal Care/Exposure; Pre/post Natal Behavior; Pre/post Natal Health Care

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

Son preference is well-documented in parts of the developing world, particularly China, Korea, India and South Asia. In societies where son preference is strong, adverse consequences for girls may be severe, including even death. Yet in the U.S. where the stated norm is one of gender equality, there has been surprising little attention to whether childrearing practices differ by gender of child. This absence seems all the more surprising given the evidence that gender differentiation is observable in a number of different domains of American children's' lives (e.g., school, play groups, etc.). Much of this literature argues that gender bias begins early in life and unfolds in subtle ways. This paper uses the NLSY to examine gender-differentiated parenting practices (infant feeding, well baby care, child care) in the U.S. Despite prevailing norms of gender equity, we hypothesize that mothers treat boys and girls differently; however, these differences cause less morbidity and have fewer lasting developmental effects, because children in the U.S. generally receive adequate nutrition and medical care, and child mortality overall is low. Therefore, gender bias in the U.S. may be invisible in infancy.

The data we use come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) linked mother-child records. The data enable us to test for the presence of gender bias by examining a number of maternal behaviors during an infant's first year of life. We consider outcomes in the realms of both health and social care. In terms of health, we look at (a) infant feeding decisions (whether the child was breastfed and duration of breastfeeding and timing of introduction of solid food); and (b) immunization records (measles, DPT, polio). In terms of social care, we consider: (c) fostering (whether child lives with other than biological mother in first year of life); and (d) how often mother reads to child; and (e) the restrictions and rules that parents place upon their chi ldren. Do women invest more heavily in terms of time, love and attention in boys than in girls?

We also control for a wide range of maternal and household outcomes that both may affect child outcomes and may affect infant-feeding and childcare decisions. Our controls include child's birth order, mother's age at birth, mother's race and ethnicity, mother's education and household poverty status. We restrict our sample to full-term infants with a normal birthweight. We use OLS and multiple logistic regression to test the effect of child's gender on maternal behavior, controlling for maternal characteristics.

Bibliography Citation
Armstrong, Elizabeth M. and Christopher C. Weiss. "Do American Mothers Treat Sons and Daughters Alike?" Presented: San Francisco, CA, American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, August 2004.