(NEW YORK) -- Little girls may be sugar and spice and everything nice, but having a daughter might boost a couple's risk of divorce, according to census data.
Not only did researchers find that couples with sons are more likely to stick together, but they also discovered unmarried pregnant couples are more likely to have shotgun weddings if the baby was going to be a boy. They also found divorced mothers of boys are more likely to remarry and stay remarried. Does this mean that daughters are matrimonially risky and sons are marriage saviors?
Not so fast, psychologists say. In the original 2003 research on the topic, economists Gordon Dahl, from the University of California-San Diego, and Enrico Moretti, at UC Berkeley, found that couples with a first-born girl were about five percent more likely to divorce than parents of a first-born boy.
When there are as many as three daughters that difference spiked to 10 percent. Given that the researchers drew U.S. Census data from more than three million adults, it's likely this effect is not just a statistical fluke, but the hows and whys of this phenomenon are open to debate.
From one perspective, there could be something about boys that makes parents want to stick it out, either because they enhance marital relations or make the prospect of a fatherless home more frightening.
More recently, however, psychologists have debated whether daughters might make mothers more willing to leave a bad marriage because they provide social support that empowers their mom.
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio