“Who gets to look nice and who gets to play? Effects of child gender on household expenditures”

We examine the relationship between a child’s gender and family expenditure using data from the Polish Household Budget Survey. Having a first-born daughter as compared with a first-born son increases the level of household expenditures on child and adult female clothing, and it reduces spending on games, toys and hobbies. This could be a reflection of a pure gender bias on behalf of the parents or a reflection of gender complementarities between parents’ and children’s expenditures. We find no robust evidence on gender differences in educational investment, measured by kindergarten expenditure. The analysed expenditure patterns suggest a so-far unexamined role of gender in child development. Parents in Poland seem to pay more attention to how girls look and favour boys with respect to activities and play, which could have consequences in adult life and contribute to sustaining gender inequalities and stereotypes.