Do Parents Invest More Resources into Male or Female Offspring?

Do Parents Invest More Resources into Male or Female Offspring?





Do Parents Invest More Resources into Male or Female Offspring?


The answer to the question of whether parents invest more resources to their male or female offspring is a topic that is likely to vary from one region to another. The preference in any family setup by the parents amongst their children is very common. Good parenting requires that all children are loved in the same measure (Lee & Lee, 2011). However, Parents tend to love and favor certain children either because of their school performances, their social activities or even basing on their gender. This latter is the most common. Children in a family have been segregated by this factor. Parents seem to favor the boy child and in most cases, he gets all the best things as compared to what the girl gets. Some are even taken to better schools, bought better devices like phone or computers while girls always come as the second choice.

A World Bank Policy Report (2001) states that some parents have the perception that investing on a girl will yield lower returns as compared to investing in a boy. The perception goes further and boys are always in the advantage of getting further education in good facilities. Handouts in the family are also not equal. Most boys receive more allowances than their sisters do. In the wills, the boys always inherit the family property and are always the talk of the family. A study by Dahl & Moretti (2008) revealed that parents in the United States favor boys over girls. They found out that most girls are brought up without a father figure in the home, which is contrary to a boy. Families with a girl as the only child were found to be more prone to divorces than those that had a boy as the only child.

Fathers were found to be less involved in girls’ lives and more involved in boys’ lives. This notion has led to parents preferring sons to daughters. In most cases, it is likely to find that parents are more inclined to their sons more than the daughters are which can be evident in cases like giving allowances, inheritance of money and even awarding of attention. Favoritism by parents can be disastrous if not checked. Favoring one child, especially the boy and not doing the same for the girl leads to feelings of rejection and can graduate to mid age depression if not checked (Bluethmann, 2011). Differentiation by parents has been linked to many emotional and psychological problems among children as Pillemer, Suitor, Pardo & Henderson (2010) state in their study. Favoritism is likely to affect both the favored as well as the one who has not been favored. The perception of unequal treatment in a family has negative effects on all the siblings. The not favored ones may have a bad attitude towards their parents or the favored child (Pillemer,, 2010).

Bluethmann (2011) explains that the favored child is likely to grow up with an air of confidence knowing all things are possible. Their self-esteem levels are always higher too. Pillemer,, 2010 found that parental differentiation was related to elevated depression levels since development of personality skills was hindered. Other negative effects of favoritism among siblings in a family include the struggle by the favored siblings with intimate relationships when they realize that no partner can love and favor them as much as their parents did. The less favored stands a chance of getting low self esteem and can develop into depression. They also suffer the constant need to feel wanted. The relationship between the favored and less favored siblings forever gets strained and the less favored always feels bitter towards the other.

Gender typing is the process by which children are made to acquire reasons, principles and behaviors that are deemed appropriate for a specific gender within a certain culture. Cultural gender roles differ from culture to culture (Leonhardt, 2003). . In the United States, the study by Dahl & Moretti (2008) brought out clearly the perception that parents prefer the male offspring as compared to the female one. In such circumstances, it is more likely that parents tend to invest more resources on the male offspring whom they prefer most as compared to the female offspring. Parents appear to invest more in their families when there is a boy involved.

In India, things are almost the same with parents being mostly interested in the boy child than the girl. Women in India are likely to get less schooling, get low wages, and at many times [do not exercise their rights such as voting or ownership of property. In a study done by Barcellos, Carvalho & Lleras-Muney (2011), they state that boys in India get more healthcare, are exposed to great nutrition, are breastfed and get vaccinated more than the girls. If a family has a set a goal of the sons they will bear, then they will keep having children until they get to that preferred number. Childcare for boys is higher than that of girls with boys getting more hours to be looked after than girls. Consequently, families with boys believe that they boys will bring them wealth since the turnover for men is higher than that of the women.


The independent and dependent variables used in the study would be the determination of whether parental investment is equal in both genders of the off spring or if one gender is highly favored as compared to the other. Parental investment as described by Campbell (2006) is the parental energy or time that is beneficial to one offspring at a cost, to the ability of the parent to invest in other factors of fitness in evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology. The theory was coined together by an American evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers. He was of the opinion that any form of investment by a parent to any of their offspring maximizes the chances of its survival thereby bringing about reproductive success all at the expense of the parent. The theory holds that investment begins from the point where the male and female egg is fertilized. The nominal obligatory investment for human male amounts to the effort required to fertilize the egg. The minimal necessary parental investments for a female amount to fertilization of the egg, carrying the pregnancy through months and finally delivering the baby. . The parental investment should amount to things such as affection and emotional support as provided by the parents. There should be nothing to arouse hard feelings between the offspring and the parent (Barber


The parental investment expectation of a female is higher than that of a male. This difference means that the total amount of investment and sweat used in mating and bringing up the child will be different as well. A male can mate with any female who is fertile thus a higher number of offspring while a female is only limited to having one child in nine months. This as Trivers explained would make the female choosier on selecting the best male to reproduce with while the males will become more competitive amongst themselves. Similarly, male species in good environments tend to possess higher reproductive ability that the female ones while the females are better known to be reproductive in quite harsh environments. Investing on the both of them in their best environments could lead to high returns. Categorically, there is need for a study to be done on how parental investment is done with a balance between male and female offspring. It is also important to determine whether parents invest more resources into male or female offspring.

Results and Discussion

The study would be expected to bring out results that indicate which offspring is more likely to gain favor in terms of investment from the parents. It would clearly indicate specifically where these investments are directed for either gender of offspring. In the current world, the male offspring have been stereotyped to greatness while the female offspring are made to believe that they are meant to do particular things and should not involve in male dominated routines. In human beings, boys are brought up and told to toughen up and stop crying while girls are conditioned to doing and being particular things. Like wise in animals such as in a pride of lions, the female lions in most occasions are the ones charged with the responsibility of hunting for the pride. These disparities are to be observed when interpreting the findings.

Samples for the study should be gathered from a patriarchal or matriarchal environment, which is a male or female dominated area respectively. All human beings are equal regardless of any other factors and should be treated in the same way without any form of biasness (Healey,2009).The predicted results from the study should shed more light on the issue and answer this old question of whether indeed parents are spending more investment on a certain gender than on the other. The solutions should address the issue and steps be taken to see to it that any gender of the offspring gets an equal share of the investment. The results when interpreted should be able to promote equality for both males and females. There should be no biasness expected from the study.













Barber, N. (2008). Why parents matter: Parental investment and child outcomes. Westport, Conn. Bergin & Garvey.

Barcellos, S. H, Carvalho, L & Lleras-Muney, A. (2011). Parental Investment in India: Are boys and girls treated differently? No Publisher.

Bluethmann, J. G. (2011). Long-Term Effects of Favoritism. Metro Parent. Retrieved from

Campbell, B. G. (2006). Sexual selection and the descent of man: The Darwinian pivot. New Brunswick (U.S.A). Aldine Transaction.

Dahl, G.B & Moretti , E. (2008). The Demand for Sons. The review of Economic Studies Limited. No Publisher.

Healey, J. (2009). Gender equality. Thirroul, N.S.W: Spinney Press.

Lee, N., & Lee, S. (2011). The parenting book. Oxford: Lion.

Leonhardt, D. (2003). It is a Girl! (Will the Economy Suffer?). New York Times.

Pillemer, K, Suitor, J. J, Pardo, S., & Henderson, C. (2010). Mothers’ Differentiation and Depressive Symptoms among Adult Children. Journal of Marriage and Family. 72 (2) 333-335. Retrieved from

World Bank Policy Report. (2001). Engendering development: Through gender equality in rights, resources, and voice. New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press





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