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Jack or Jill?

Discussion 1

Suppose that a certain society values sons more than daughters. In this society, a couple will continue bearing children until they produce a son, at which point they will retire from the child-bearing business.

  1. Would this family-planning scheme tend to produce more boys, or more girls?

  2. Using coin tosses, simulate the generation of twenty families. Make histograms for the number of sons and the number of daughters. Find the average and the standard deviation of the number of sons and the number of daughters. In light of this data, are you inclined to change your answer to the previous question?

Discussion 2

  1. If couples could magically determine the sex of their offspring, what would happen? Would there be a sudden increase in the number of boys, or girls? If so, would this imbalance correct itself?

  2. If society were able to prevent the use of this magical method, would it have the right to do so? If so, would it be well-advised to do so?

  3. Read and discuss the editorial `Jack or Jill?' in The Lancet.
Tue Jun 28 15:24:59 EDT 1994