Some Family Values

Kevin Lewis

January 17, 2021

Daughters and Divorce
Jan Kabátek & David Ribar
Economic Journal, forthcoming


Are couples with daughters more likely to divorce than couples with sons? Using Dutch registry and U.S. survey data, we show that couples with daughters face higher risks of divorce, but only when daughters are 13 to 18 years old. These age-specific results run counter to explanations involving overarching, time-invariant preferences for sons and sex-selection into live birth. We propose another explanation that involves relationship strains in families with teenage daughters. In subsample analyses, we find larger child-gender differences in divorce risks for parents whose attitudes towards gender-roles are likely to differ from those of their daughters and partners. We also find survey evidence of relationship strains in families with teenage daughters.

The Family Origin of the Math Gender Gap is a White Affluent Phenomenon
Gaia Dossi et al.
NBER Working Paper, January 2021


Previous research has shown that norms around the role of women in society could help explain the gender gap in mathematics, and that these norms could be transmitted within the family. Using data from the Florida Department of Education combined with birth certificates we uncover important heterogeneity in the transmission of gender biases within the family. We find that gender role norms can explain the lower performance of girls in mathematics only in relatively affluent White families, whereas they do not apparently matter for the performance of Black girls.

Moms’ Time — Married or Not
Daniel Hamermesh
NBER Working Paper, January 2021


Using time-diary data from the U.S. and six wealthy European countries, I demonstrate that non-partnered mothers spend slightly less time performing childcare, but much less time in other household activities than partnered mothers. Unpartnered mothers’ total work time — paid work and household production — is slightly less than partnered women’s. In the U.S. but not elsewhere they watch more television and engage in fewer other leisure activities. These differences are independent of any differences in age, race/ethnicity, ages and numbers of children, and household incomes. Non-partnered mothers feel slightly more pressured for time and much less satisfied with their lives. Analyses using the NLSY79 show that mothers whose partners left the home in the past two years became more depressed than those whose marriages remained intact. Coupled with evidence that husbands spend substantial time in childcare and with their children, the results suggest that children of non-partnered mothers receive much less parental care — perhaps 40 percent less — than other children; and most of what they receive is from mothers who are less satisfied with their lives.

The Unintended Consequences of the Things We Say: What Generic Statements Communicate to Children About Unmentioned Categories
Kelsey Moty & Marjorie Rhodes
Psychological Science, forthcoming


Adults frequently use generic language (e.g., “Boys play sports”) to communicate information about social groups to children. Whereas previous research speaks to how children often interpret information about the groups described by generic statements, less is known about what generic claims may implicitly communicate about unmentioned groups (e.g., the possibility that “Boys play sports” implies that girls do not). Study 1 (287 four- to six-year-olds, 56 adults) and Study 2 (84 four- to six-year-olds) found that children as young as 4.5 years draw inferences about unmentioned categories from generic claims (but not matched specific statements) — and that the tendency to make these inferences strengthens with age. Study 3 (181 four- to seven-year-olds, 65 adults) provides evidence that pragmatic reasoning serves as a mechanism underlying these inferences. We conclude by discussing the role that generic language may play in inadvertently communicating social stereotypes to young children.

Changes in Abortion in Texas Following an Executive Order Ban During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Kari White et al.
Journal of the American Medical Association, forthcoming

Background: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on March 22, 2020, postponing surgeries and procedures that were not medically necessary. Texas officials interpreted this to prohibit most abortions until the order expired on April 21, 2020, contrary to medical associations’ recommendations. The objective of this analysis was to assess changes in abortions following the executive order. We also hypothesized that abortions performed at 12 weeks’ gestational age (GA) or more would increase after the order expired.

Methods: The University of Texas at Austin and University of California, San Francisco, institutional review boards approved this study and waived informed consent. Since January 2017, monthly data were requested from Texas abortion facilities on the number of medication abortions, procedural abortions at less than 12 weeks’ GA, and procedural abortions at 12 weeks’ GA or more. Of 24 Texas facilities, 18 reported data for 2019 and 2020, including 4 that opened in 2019. These facilities provide 93% of abortions in Texas, according to comparisons with state vital statistics data. Monthly data were also collected on the number of Texas residents obtaining abortions at 30 of the 37 open facilities in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico from February 2020 through May 2020 and compared with 2017 data collected previously from these states (Supplement). Negative binomial regression models were used to estimate the percent change in the number of in-state abortions that occurred in February, March, April (the month most affected by the order), and May 2020 for all abortions, medication abortions, procedures less than 12 weeks’ GA, and procedures 12 weeks’ GA or more relative to the same month in 2019, and all out-of-state abortions among Texas residents relative to 2017, separately. A second set of negative binomial models were used to estimate whether monthly in-state abortions occurring in February, March, April, and May 2020 differed from the overall linear trend in Texas since January 2019, after adjustment for the number of abortion facilities and abortion seasonality. Stata version 15 was used for analyses (StataCorp). A 95% CI not including the null defined statistical significance.

Results: Texas facilities provided 18 268 abortions from February through May 2019 and 16 349 abortions during these months in 2020. Overall, 4608 abortions were provided in April 2019 and 2856 in April 2020, a 38.0% (95% CI, −40.8% to −35.1%) decrease. Texas residents receiving care at out-of-state facilities increased from 157 in February 2020 to 947 in April 2020; monthly totals ranged from 107 to 165 in 2017. The number of medication abortions increased from 1808 in April 2019 to 2297 in April 2020, accounting for 39% and 80% of all abortions, respectively (Table 2). After adjustment for time trends and number of facilities, there was a 17.4% (95% CI, −7.1% to 48.4%) difference in the number of medication abortions in April 2020 relative to that expected had the linear trend from January 2019 continued. Compared with April 2019, there were fewer procedural abortions less than 12 weeks’ GA (2318 vs 317) and at 12 weeks’ GA or more (482 vs 242) in April 2020. After the executive order was lifted in May 2020, 815 procedural abortions at 12 weeks’ GA or more were provided vs 507 in May 2019, an 82.6% (95% CI, 46.7% to 127.4%) increase over that expected based on linear trends.


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