Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Essays on fertility preference, social change, and living arrangements
by Lin, Tin-chi, Ph.D., Princeton University, 2011, 118; 3463332
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis explores three related domains of social change and their manifestations in family life in Asia: the rising socioeconomic status of women, the preference for sons, and older parents’ living arrangements. The first essay examines whether rising female socioeconomic status leads to a shift in the preference for sons. The rising status confers opportunities for individual women to counteract the unequal positions of females relative to males prescribed in the society, a fundamental cause of son preference. I test the hypothesis using the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice of Contraception (KAP) Series in Taiwan from 1973 to 2003. I find that at the individual level education was negatively associated with son preference and positively with gender indifference; as the younger cohorts gradually replaced the older ones as the main child bearers, at the aggregate level son preference declined and gender indifference rose.

It is well-documented that the preference for sons has led to many unintended consequences, such as excess female infant mortality and poorer nutrition among girls. However, few have explored its manifestations in children’s input for housework, the most common form of child labor defined by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Thus, the second essay, which is a joint work with Alícia Adserà, examines whether a higher perceived value of sons leads to different considerations when parents give housework to a boy or a girl; we use the National Family Health Survey, India (2005). We find that a higher perceived value for sons is associated with greater differentials in time spent on housework between boys and girls, and also more hours of housework among girls. To ensure robustness, we perform several additional analyses, all of which yield similar results.

Finally, social change seldom exerts its influence on one domain; concomitant with the “gender neutralization” in Taiwan is a gradual departure from the traditional extended household and the “cultural ideal” of intergenerational co-residence. With a growing heterogeneity in household composition and in the preferences for living arrangements, it is likely that many older parents have experienced a “living arrangements discrepancy”, defined as a mismatch between desired and actual arrangements. Few studies have investigated how the parents fare during this transition. Using the Taiwan Longitudinal Survey on Aging, I find that experiencing a discrepancy in living arrangements is associated with an 11% (the random-effects model) and 14% (the fixed-effects model) in negative affect. I further formulate the regression models as a structural equation model (SEM) with a latent variable to assess their model fit; the SEMs suggest that the fixed-effects model fits the data well.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lynch, Scott M.
School: Princeton University
School Location: United States -- New Jersey
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social structure, Demography
Keywords: Extended households, Housework, India, Living arrangements, Son preference, Taiwan
Publication Number: 3463332
ISBN: 9781124735221