Patterns of Parental Spending: Do Parents Spend More Money on Sons or Daughters?
This study examines the spending patterns of parents, indentifying differences in the amount of money that parents spend on select items for sons compared to daughters. Using secondary data from the "Consumer Expenditure Survey: Diary Survey" dataset from 2008 through 2010, this study tests the hypothesis that parents with adolescent girls spend more money on apparel, beauty and hygiene products, health care, and education compared to parents with adolescent boys. An interaction effect for gender and socioeconomic status by parental expenditures was also included in order to test the long-debated Trivers-Willard hypothesis that high status parents will spend more money on sons while low status parents will spend more on daughters. In determining whether an association exists between parents' expenditures and the gender of their children, multiple regressions were used to test the hypotheses, allowing the results to be generalizable to single-child and two-child families of adolescents across the United States. The regressions show that within one-child households, parents with daughters do in fact spend more money when making purchases for apparel, education, and medical expenses. However, these findings do not apply to two-child families, as no significant differences were found within these households. Following these results, limitations to the study are discussed, as well as the study's implications for familial relationships, consumer socialization, and gender inequality among children.