Female Babies and Risk-aversion: Causal Evidence from Hospital Wards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Warwick
  • Harvard University


Using ultrasound scan data from paediatric hospitals, and the exogenous ‘shock’ of learning the gender of an unborn baby, the paper documents the first causal evidence that offspring gender affects adult risk-aversion. On a standard Holt-Laury criterion, parents of daughters, whether unborn or recently born, become almost twice as risk-averse as parents of sons. The study demonstrates this in longitudinal and cross-sectional data, for fathers and mothers, for babies in the womb and new-born children, and in a West European nation and East European nation. These findings may eventually aid our understanding of risky health behaviors and gender inequalities.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-17
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Early online date8 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • pregnancy, risk attitudes, daughters, child gender