Son Preference and Mental Health of Fathers


There is ample evidence that fathers favor sons over daughters. Yet, fathers of sons have poorer mental health than those of daughters. We illuminate and aim to explain this previously undocumented puzzle using Austrian data. We use various administrative and survey data sources to show that fathers with first-born sons tend to behave more like mothers, i.e. they invest significantly more in childcare and less in market work. Mothers’ investment behavior is not affected by the sex of the child. We conclude that the mental health of these men suffers from this shift in parenting behavior.

Johanna Luise Reuter
Johanna Luise Reuter
Assistant Professor (non tenure-track) in Economics

Hello! I’m a AP (non tenure-track) in Economics at the Johannes Kepler Universität in Linz, Austria. I am an applied economist and work on gender, family, health and education economics. I obtained my PhD at the European University Institute under the supervision of Michèle Belot and Andrea Ichino.