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Motherhood, Sex of the Offspring, and Religious Signaling
Authors: Ozan Aksoy
Source: Sociological Science, 4(21):511-527 DOI 10.15195/v4.a21
Topic(s): Family structure
Country: Asia
Published: SEP 2017
Abstract: 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.