Motherhood, Sex of the Offspring, and Religious Signaling

Ozan Aksoy

Sociological Science, September 27, 2017
DOI 10.15195/v4.a21


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Using Turkey’s 2013 Demographic and Health Survey, I find that among married women, having a single child as opposed to no children is associated with an approximately five-percentage-point increase in the likelihood of religious veiling. Furthermore, the likelihood of religious veiling increases as the number of a woman’s children increases. Robustness checks show that these associations are rather stable across the Muslim world. In addition, I use the sex of a woman’s first child as a natural experiment and find that in Turkey, having a son versus a daughter increases the likelihood of religious veiling by 2.2 percentage points. In contrast, having a child and the sex of the first child have no significant effects on unobservable religious behaviors, traditional values, and gender norms. These results are consistent with the hypothesis derived from signaling theory that women use veiling strategically to foster family reputation.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Ozan Aksoy: Department of Quantitative Social Science, University College London

Acknowledgements: I thank Aron Szekely, Francesco Billari, Alex Bryson, Diego Gambetta, Bilal Nasim, Nikki Shure, David Voas, and the participants of the University College London Department of Quantitative Social Science seminar for helpful suggestions and comments.

  • Citation: Aksoy, Ozan. 2017. “Motherhood, Sex of the Offspring, and Religious Signaling.” Sociological Science 4: 511-527.
  • Received: June 7, 2017
  • Accepted: July 27, 2017
  • Editors: Jesper Sørensen, Stephen Morgan
  • DOI: 10.15195/v4.a21

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