WOMEN
06/24/2011 06:37 pm ET | Updated Aug 24, 2011

Americans Prefer Sons To Daughters, Survey Finds

What ever happened to parents-to-be saying, "We don't care whether it's a boy or a girl, as long as it's healthy?"

According to a new Gallup poll -- they do care -- and if they could only have one child, Americans would rather have a boy.

The poll of 1,020 men and women over the age of 18 found that 40 percent preferred a boy to the 28 percent who said a girl, with the rest having no opinion on the matter.

In fact, Americans have repeatedly said they'd prefer having a son to a daughter in each of the 10 surveys Gallup has conducted since 1941.

What is going on here?

The study found that men drive the desire to have boys, with 49 percent preferring male babies, whereas the percent of women preferring boys nearly equaled the percent wanting girls.

Preferences also have something to do with age. For the 30 and under crowd, a whopping 54 percent would rather have a boy, while only 27 percent wanted a girl. Past 50, the percent preferring girls goes up to 29, and preference for boys decreases to 31 percent. 32 percent of women over 50 actually preferred a girl, compared to the 25 percent of the same demographic who said they would rather have a boy.

And if you want to get political about it, the preference for a boy is higher among Republicans than Democrats, which makes sense in light of the gender divide in politics: As Gallup notes, American men are more likely to be Republican, and women are more likely to be Democrats.

What's chilling about this data is that it echoes the preference for boys in other cultures where parents take extreme measures to ensure that they will raise boys, from abandoning female children to girl infanticide. While there's no evidence of Americans pursuing their preferences to that extreme, some do use embryo screening, legal in the United States but illegal in many other parts of the world, to choose the sex of their child. It would be interesting the next time around for Gallup to poll how many parents would use that technology to ensure a child of the desired sex.