Sons and Daughters: Parental Beliefs and Child Behaviour (Evidence from the UK Millennium Cohort Study)

Gurleen Popli, Aki Tsuchiya

Abstract

An extensive literature exists exploring the determinants of child behaviour, with increasing interest in its links with parental characteristics and beliefs. In this paper we explore a particular aspect of this relationship by looking at the parents' beliefs regarding how to treat boys and girls. A question in the third wave of the UK Millennium Cohort Study asks both the mother and father of 5-year olds whether they agree to the statement: 'Sons in families should be given more encouragement than daughters to do well at school'. We model both the determinants of parent's beliefs, as captured by this question; and the impact of these beliefs on the behaviour of 7 year old boys and girls, separately. The key findings of the paper suggest that parental agreement to the above statement does not have an impact on boys' behaviour; however, it has a detrimental impact on the behaviour of girls.