americans prefer boys, too

i’ve had a couple of posts up recently about the gender imbalance issue in china and india because of sex selective abortions in those countries.

well, turns out that americans prefer boys, too — and they have done since at least 1941! from gallup:

Americans Prefer Boys to Girls, Just as They Did in 1941
“Men tend to want boys; women are divided in their gender preferences

“If Americans could have only one child, they would prefer that it be a boy rather than a girl, by a 40% to 28% margin, with the rest having no preference or no opinion on the matter. These attitudes are remarkably similar to what Gallup measured in 1941, when Americans preferred a boy to a girl by a 38% to 24% margin….”

so, the preference for a boy child doesn’t seem so culturally-based. in fact, it’s starting to sound kinda — you know — universal to me. (more data req.) the imperative to act on this preference, tho, doesn’t seem so strong in the states for whatever reason(s).

see also: Couples With Daughters More Likely to Divorce (oh noes!)

previously: india and china’s missing girls and mara hvistendahl is a… and mara hvistendahl responds to dawkins

(note: comments do not require an email. or two x-chromosomes.)

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11 Comments

  1. I guess men bring (brought) a lot more power to the family, both economic power and physical violence & threatened violence power – whether it be in forager life or malthusian-traditional agri life. But, as one of the famous evo minds observed (Trivers? Hamilton?), since every offspring has one mother and one father, virtually no species develops significantly unbalanced sex ratios. The situation you have noted in India or Pakistan about 100 years ago, where regional populations were something like 66% male, sounds like one of those cases of instincts somehow getting out of the balance (vs opposite instincts) where they would be fitness-optimizing. Because of the ‘one father one mother’ principle – the two sexes’ genes must be very near equally represented in the next generation – usually when a pop is 66% male and 33% female the females have ~2x the fitness of the males. Because in every generation, men /collectively/ have x1 offspring and women also collectively have x1 offspring. Less women than men means more offspring for women per capita, than for men.

    Since ~1875-1900, the West and Japan have rather transcended the rule of males bringing more power ( =fitness ), and India has transcended it a lot less.

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  2. The fig wasp is a species in which males – and sexuality itself, ie genetic recombination – are functionally vestigial or nearly so. There is an unbalanced gender ratio – very rare – and the males fertilize their sisters. The record shows that for almost all macro-organisms, asexuality is a nasty ‘pseudo-peak’ in the fitness landscape, which is a true peak for a while but very soon becomes a sinkhole. So unless fig wasps can improve their lousy behavior, they will probably be extinct in a few million years. Dandelions too – and since they are already completely asexual (I think), they are already almost locked into doom, their only hope being independently re-inventing sexuality. That’s probably like 0.00001% likely. How strange to see these organisms on the roadside, and by the gift of knowledge we have from Darwin and others be aware that for all their abundance they are doomed and futile.

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  3. > The record shows that for almost all macro-organisms, asexuality is a nasty ‘pseudo-peak’

    Actually I am less sure about plants and fungi. It may be more ‘almost all animals’. I don’t recall.

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  4. @r.s. – “…usually when a pop is 66% male and 33% female the females have ~2x the fitness of the males.”

    the figures are not so off-balanced today in india, however it is the well-off that are aborting girls more than boys. that can’t be good. sounds potentially dysgenic (since poorer women will be contributing more children per capita in the next generation). amiright?

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  5. > the ‘one father one mother’ principle – the two sexes’ genes must be very near equally represented in the next generation

    The /autosomes/ are perfectly equally represented, right? I only said ‘very near’ because of the sex chromosomes.

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  6. @r.s. – “Dandelions too – and since they are already completely asexual (I think), they are already almost locked into doom, their only hope being independently re-inventing sexuality.”

    well, nobody’s gonna miss dandelions. (~_^) (except those of us who like to make dandelion wine!)

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  7. @r.s. – “The /autosomes/ are perfectly equally represented, right? I only said ‘very near’ because of the sex chromosomes.”

    ah:

    Female genome
    6068 Mbp
    Autosomal DNA: 5758 Mbp (≈94.89%)
    X: 155 Mbp (≈2.55%), XX: 310Mb (≈5.11%)

    Male genome
    5972 Mbp
    Autosomal DNA: 5758 Mbp (≈96.42%)
    X: 155 Mbp (≈2.60%), Y: 59 Mbp (≈0.99%), XY: 214 Mbp (≈3.58%)

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  8. > the figures are not so off-balanced today in india, however it is the well-off that are aborting girls more than boys.

    That sound like what I meant by ‘unabalanced instincts’. In the poor, the wish to get by in the mid-term means they keep more girls despite their wish for boys – the girls can get them a fair amount of labor, though not as much as the boys, and can get them dowries. In the rich, the instinct (and maybe an instinct-derived meme) having to do with getting by in the mid-term is ablated by their wealth, and they have only the preference for boys which is based on their longer-term advantage. So they behave in a way far from their fitness optimum.

    (That said, an imbalance favoring males is /less/ of a fitness hit among the rich. Male scions of the rich can go out and ‘sow their wild oats’, unlike the sons of the poor. Daughters of the rich can’t do this.)

    20 years from now India will probably be much more prosperous, and all instincts/memes involving ‘severity’ will inevitably be attenuated. So male and female conceptions/kids will be treated more equally.

    > that can’t be good. sounds potentially dysgenic (since poorer women will be contributing more children per capita in the next generation). amiright?

    Lot of booze in me at the moment but yeah, that seems to make perfect sense.

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  9. @r.s. – “Male scions of the rich can go out and ‘sow their wild oats’, unlike the sons of the poor.”

    yes, yes. makes sense!

    @r.s. – “Lot of booze in me at the moment….”

    cheers! (^_^)

    Reply

  10. To me that’s a new species of dysgenesis. You may have a novel discovery there – I wouldn’t be surprised if it had never been noted by anyone.

    Reply

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