First-Born Son or Only Child Daughter? Your Parents Will Give More

Now, how about this?

Parents of first-born sons and only-child daughters give more. 

Say what?  Parents’ charitable giving is affected by the sex of their first child, according to a new study as reported at

"The sex of the first-born child affects the likelihood that the parents will give to charity, the amount they give, and the types of causes and organizations they support," says Debra Mesch, the Eileen Lamb O'Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy and director of Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, located on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.  
"This is an important factor influencing charitable giving that was previously unknown."

The study provides the first evidence that the sex of the first-born child influences the parents' giving in two-parent families, but not in single-parent families.

Among other key findings of the "Women Give 2015" study are:

• Parents who have a first-born son and have two or more children are more likely to give, and give 14.3 percent larger amounts than people whose first-born child is a daughter.

• Parents who have a daughter who is an only child are more likely to give to charity, and they give 20.3 percent higher amounts than parents of a son who is an only child.

• People whose only child is a daughter give more to education and basic needs.

• People whose first-born child is a son give more to education, youth and family services.

Now I was the oldest in my family and I have to say, I don't remember my parents being too generous to societal organizations.  And my husband is a first-born son and his parents never gave to anything (including, often, him!).

"Research in several fields has examined how the sex of a child affects parents’ behavior, but this is the first study to ask this question about philanthropy," said Mark Otttoni-Wilhelm, the co-principal investigator and professor of economics and philanthropic studies at IUPUI. "Finding that the sex of the child does have an impact on the parents' philanthropy is one of those special moments of discovery."

Many previous studies have found that parents influence their children's generosity. The new research expands that sphere of influence to include children's effect on their parents' generosity. The researchers found that the children's effect was shaped by other family characteristics, including the number of children, the partnership status of the parents (partnered or not), the parents' partnership history and whether any children are still living at home.

I've always been generous with my time, if not my resources, though I did give my church $4,000 when I was earning six figures for air-conditioning of the sanctuary -- which was never put in, but that's another story.

These days, when I'm no longer earning those kingly sums, I give my time.  I volunteer at an after-school homework club and I taught Sunday school for a number of years. So that's my way of giving back. 


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