The Second Adolescence: The Sex of Firstborn Adolescent Offspring and Fathers’ Sexual Behavior and Health in the Developing World

Abigail Weitzman, New York University (NYU)

Parental effects on children have been a common theme in social science literature. Far less attention, however, has been paid to children’s impact on parents. I integrate theories of gender, socialization, and the life course to ask whether fathers' sexual behaviors differ by the sex of adolescent firstborn offspring. To answer this question, I create a natural experiment observing the effects of the sex of firstborn offspring on fathers’ sexual behavior and health, drawing on data from thirty-seven Demographic and Health Surveys. The results suggest that compared to fathers with firstborn daughters, fathers with firstborn sons are more likely to report recent sexual activity and paying for sex, while less likely to report using condoms. Furthermore, fathers of adolescent sons are more likely to report having genital warts. Additional analyses reveal a corresponding effect of offspring sex on fathers’ attitudes toward women’s sexual autonomy.

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Presented in Session 77: Sexuality and Gender issues