Daughters favoured over sons in hard times

New York, June 30 (IANS) Parents financially favour daughters over sons when they expect tough economic times ahead, a research said.

A study found participants preferred to enroll a daughter rather than a son in beneficial programmes, preferred to give a US Treasury bond to a daughter rather than to a son, and bequeathed a greater share of their assets to female offspring in their will when they perceived economic conditions to be poor.

“Almost all parents say that they do not favour one of their children over another, but economic recessions subconsciously lead parents to prefer girls over boys,” said lead author Kristina Durante, professor of marketing at Rutgers Business School in the US.

In one experiment, 629 participants read a news article that described the economy as either improving, getting worse, or neutral.

They then were asked to make a will dividing their assets between an imaginary son and daughter as well as assign one to a beneficial programme.

Those led to believe tough economic times were ahead, allocated nearly 60 percent of their available resources to the girl compared to a nearly 50/50 split between the two children when economic conditions were viewed as either neutral or prosperous.

“These results in humans align well with the behaviour of other animals,” said Vladas Griskevicius from Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.

“When resources are scarce parents prefer females because they have a larger reproductive payoff. Almost every female child will produce some offspring, but many male children end up having zero offspring.”

Another experiment explored the boundaries of age on resources allocation. As expected, the bias toward females was stronger as the children moved closer to reproductive age.

The study is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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