Having daughters makes you happier, survey says

Updated: 2015-05-19 07:39

By Xu Wei(China Daily)

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Parents who have girls are much happier than those with boys, particularly when the children reach early adulthood, according to a study.

The contrast is especially evident among parents whose children are between 24 and 30 and plan to marry, as in China the groom's family is traditionally responsible for buying a home for newlyweds.

Researchers also found that mothers with daughters were happier when they became elderly than those with sons.

The study was conducted by Lu Fangwen, an associate professor of development economics at Renmin University of China, and Liu Guoen, an economics professor at the National School of Development at Peking University.

They studied the responses of 4,309 families that took part in the China Social General Survey carried out by Renmin University in 2008.

Parents were asked to pick a number between one and five to describe their level of happiness, with one being "very unhappy" and five "very happy".

The study compared the happiness levels of parents based on the gender of their first child.

"The factor of real estate prices plays a very important part, as our study shows that parents in areas with high prices are showing much lower happiness indexes," said Lu.

The study found no evidence for the traditional idea that having sons ensures better care in old age.

"Quite the opposite, our research shows that having a son significantly reduces the happiness index of elderly parents, in both rural and urban areas," she said.

One of the major problems resulting from the family planning policy and the preference for boys over girls is the imbalance of the sex ratio at birth, as 115.88 boys were born for every 100 girls last year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

The imbalance reached its peak in 2004 when the country recorded 121.18 boys for every 100 girls.

The central government relaxed the one child policy in November 2013, allowing couples where one partner is an only child to have a second baby.

"The competition for males in the marriage market is getting fiercer, and that has also piled pressure on parents," Lu said.

Lu said the chances of parents opting for gender selection is much higher with a second child, and this has aggravated the problem of gender imbalance.

"The phenomenon is much more common among parents who have girls as their first child," she said.

"They generally have a strong wish that they have a son as their second child."