Advice for the marrying mother - ditch your daughter

By Michael Bradley
May 7 2003

Single mothers are less likely to marry if their child is a girl, a study from the United States has claimed.

The paper's authors do not explain why this might be, but their study of 600 single mothers in the US found that those with sons were 42 per cent more likely to marry the father of their child than those with daughters, and 11 per cent more likely to marry a man who was not their child's father.

The study, published next week in the journal Demography, was conducted by two economists from the University of Washington, who have found in previous studies that fathers of sons spend more money on their families and are more dedicated to their work than fathers of girls.

According to other research cited in the study, couples with sons are less likely to split than those with daughters.

Elspeth McInnes, a sociologist at the University of South Australia and head of the National Council of Single Mothers and Their Children, said she was surprised by the study's findings, but was unsure whether they reflected Australian experience.

"The US profile of single mothers is really different to Australia's," she said.

Young single mothers were more prevalent in the US, she said, because contraception and abortions were less freely available there.

She said recent Australian studies had found that single mothers were more likely to marry if they had a job.