Wow. You may have read stories about the parents of firstborn daughters being statistically more likely to divorce? Well, researchers have a theory that explains this – and it’s probably not what you’d imagine!
Initial theories about why this was so were fairly inconclusive. They rudely included the corker concept that dads are more likely to save a marriage if their kid is the same sex as them (a boy!)
Thankfully, there is some much more interesting chatter on this trend that seems more squarely rooted in fact. Research suggests that this female firstborn Splitsville hex may not be due to some parental gender bias, but rather what goes on in utero in very early pregnancy.
Trouble in a relationship is often apparent during conception and pregnancy and the stress of this conflict – and resulting stress hormones released in a woman’s body during her pregnancy – may have quite different effects on boy and girl embryos, science-y types say.
Researchers Amar Hamoudi and Jenna Nobles, think that female embryos may actually be stronger than male ones, and more likely to withstand tough times. Male embryos apparently have a lower survival rate.
Hamoudi, an assistant professor of public policy and economics at Duke University, told The Huffington Post that the concept of ‘female survival advantage’ – for instance, the idea that women live longer and may be more resilient – sparked this research into a possible female survival advantage, pre-birth.
After examining data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth, Hamoudi and Nobles determined that couples in conflict were more likely to have a firstborn daughter – not a a son. They put this down to stress hormones potentially ‘weeding out’ male embryos during early pregnancy.
A closer look
While this seems to point to this ‘girl = split’ trend being nothing much to do with young ladies in question (unless you are talking about their excellent survival instincts!), much more work needs to be done if we want the full story.
“We didn’t prove that girls don’t cause divorce,” Hamoudi told The Huffington Post.
“What we proved was that it would be hasty to look at the daughter-to-divorce association and say, ‘Aha, girls must cause divorce,’ because we now have another explanation for why that association might exist.”
He said that delving deeper into what happens to our offspring pre-birth is key if we want to get to the bottom of this firstborn daughter-divorce correlation.
We can’t wait to hear more on this fascinating topic.