Discussion paper

DP18538 The Role of Child Gender in the Formation of Parents' Social Networks

Social networks play an important role in various aspects of life. While extensive research has explored factors like gender, race, and education in network formation, one dimension that has received less attention is the gender of one's child. Children tend to form friendships with same-gender peers, potentially leading their parents to interact based on their child's gender. Focusing on households with children aged 3-5, we leverage a rich dataset from rural Bangladesh to investigate the role of children's gender in parental network formation. We estimate an equilibrium model of network formation that considers a child's gender alongside other socioeconomic factors. Counterfactual analyses reveal that children's gender significantly shapes parents' network structure. Specifically, if all children share the same gender, households would have approximately 15% more links, with a stronger effect for families having girls. Importantly, the impact of children's gender on network structure is on par with or even surpasses that of factors such as income distribution, parental occupation, education, and age. These findings carry implications for debates surrounding coed versus single-sex schools, as well as policies that foster inter-gender social interactions among children.


Houndetoungan, A, A Islam, M Vlassopoulos and Y Zenou (2023), ‘DP18538 The Role of Child Gender in the Formation of Parents' Social Networks‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18538. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18538