Do Daughters Cause Divorce?

That provocative question was posed by a prominent economist in this article.  Before you start sending me nasty emails, consider the data:

In the United States, the parents of a girl are nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of a boy. The more daughters, the bigger the effect: The parents of three girls are almost 10 percent more likely to divorce than the parents of three boys. In Mexico and Colombia the gap is wider; in Kenya it’s wider still. In Vietnam, it’s huge: Parents of a girl are 25 percent more likely to divorce than parents of a boy.

What explains this data?  This article offers several theories, including:

Maybe boys grow up to be better economic providers for their parents’ old age. (This would explain why the preference for boys is stronger in countries where men hold more economic power.) Maybe boys are just more fun to have around. Maybe parents want a child who can carry on the family name. Or maybe there’s something deep in our psyches that tells us a family just isn’t a family without a son.

A psychology professor offers this competing interpretation:

[T]hese explanations seem to have overlooked several important facts:

1.  Recent statistics in the US show that 73% of divorces involve wives leaving their husbands. So, perhaps we should be wondering, “Why are mothers of daughters divorcing more than mothers of sons?”

2.  When adult sons live at home, they add to the daily workload of their parents. When adult daughters live at home, they decrease the daily workload.*

3.  Females offer more and better social support than do men (see Shelley Taylor’s 2002 book, The Tending Instinct).

4.  An enormous human motivation is avoiding being lonely (see Cacioppo and Patrick’s 2008 book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection).

When we add up these facts, a conclusion we might draw is that wives with daughters are less likely to stay with their husbands because they know that with a girl, they’ll never be lonely or without help. Thus, they may be less willing to tolerate any bad behaviors from their husbands (and less willing to stay married) because they don’t need their husbands as much. This idea could even explain why couples expecting a girl are less likely to marry: A woman carrying a girl anticipates that she won’t need a husband.

What do you think?  How do you explain the statistical gap?

Information provided by K.O. Herston, Tennessee Divorce Lawyer.

Posted by

K.O. Herston is a family-law attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law, including divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, prenuptial agreements, and other aspects of family law.

One thought on “Do Daughters Cause Divorce?

  1. I have been living this nightmare for over a decade now. I accuse my ex-wife and two daughters of having a coven. I sit and imagine them with iron cauldron in the middle of the living room conjuring up spells to manipulate, rob and disrespect me. Incantations like, “Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn so Jed’s head will pop like a bubble”

Leave a Comment