Why the Son-bias in Caregiving? Testing Sex-differences in the Associations Between Paternal Caregiving and Child Outcomes in England. By: Emmott, Emily H.; Mace, Ruth. Journal of Family Issues. Jun2021, Vol. 42 Issue 6, p1354-1383. 30p.

Studies show that fathers across Western populations tend to provide more care to sons than daughters. Following a human behavioral ecological framework, we hypothesize that son-biases in fathering may (at least in part) be due to differences in fitness returns to paternal direct investments by child’s sex. In this study, we investigate sex-differences in the associations between paternal caregiving and children’s outcomes in stable, two-parent families. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we test whether paternal caregiving in early childhood is associated with different effects on children’s school test scores and behavioral difficulties by children’s sex. Overall, we find that paternal caregiving is associated with higher school test scores and lower behavioral difficulty scores, but the association between paternal caregiving and school test scores was stronger for boys. Our findings highlight possible sex-differences in returns to paternal caregiving for certain domains of child outcomes in England.