February 19, 2006

More gender politics: it's about whether you have sons or daughters.

You've heard the idea that Democrats are the Mommy Party and Republicans are the Daddy Party. And you know they say that women tend to be liberal and men conservative, the "gender gap." Here's the theory that leaning left or right has something to do with whether you have daughters or sons:
In Germany, two-thirds of people who switched their political affiliation in the year after having a son moved to the more conservative party. The ratio was flipped for those who had a daughter.

In Britain, the two left of center parties, Labor and the Liberal Democrats, do much better — 11 percentage points — among voters with three girls and no boys than among voters with three boys and no girls....

In small ways, having a daughter seems to make men think a little bit more like women when it comes to economic considerations like health care — and to make women focus even more on those issues. Democrats pushed for the Family and Medical Leave Act over Republican objections, for example, and more voters agree with Democratic positions on health care.

"You see a different set of experiences" when you have a daughter, said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. "You tend to see more of a role for government and more of a need for a safety net."

But the findings cut both ways. Boys aren't neutral. They seem to make some parents more conservative. In the United States, just 31 percent of parents with only boys call themselves Democrats, while 37 percent with only girls do, according to the General Social Survey, a large poll.

One reason, Mr. Oswald said, might be that men work longer hours and earn more money than women, giving the parents of boys reason to want lower taxes. Men also tend to prefer that individuals make decisions, a view that fits with Republican beliefs, while women prefer community solutions.
One more reason to say Althouse is right wing: I have sons.

25 comments:

JohnF said...

Well, I have two sons and a daughter, and am definitely right of center. Sort of.

Ann Althouse said...

The key question should be whether your politics changed after you had children, and, if so, whether there's a gender correlation.

Joan said...

John: I also have 2 sons and a daughter, and I'm definitely on the right, no "sort of" about it.

This theory has got to be the worst I've ever heard advanced. We want lower taxes for our higher-earning boys? Huh? We want a nanny state to take care of our helpless daughters? Again, huh?

I strongly suspect an element of the old correlation/causation confusion in this article.

As a parent, I want the same things for my boys as I want for my girl: fulfilling lives. I'm not depending on the government to give them much of anything besides basic services (roads, police, fire protection, etc) and a secure place in the world, which is why I'm on board with the whole global war on terrorism. It would be nice if we could get a better handle on that before my kids reach adulthood.

Meade said...

The more frequent the seminal emissions of the male partner, the more likely that the progeny will be female if there is conception. Would it follow that Republicans have less frequent sex? Not necessarily, I suppose - perhaps male Democrats masturbate more frequently.

chuck b. said...

I can think of at least three daughters I have known over the years with extremely conservative parents. I have a hard time believing the parents were liberals before the girls came along.

Also, my intuition tells me that daughters would make parents more conservative, especially wrt/ the subject category of "boys".

Aspasia M. said...

In rape trials, the conventional wisdom for prosecutors is to have as many fathers of daughters on the jury as possible. They are the most likely to convict.

In the 19th century U.S., fathers of daughters were a critical group that supported married women's property laws.

chuck b. said...

I meant to add "hard to believe the parents were liberals or more conservative" to that first post.

Also, don't Cheney and Bush have daughters? Are they more liberal now than they were before they became parents?

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PatCA said...

I'd say his thesis is pretty frail. I think one party sort of represents the soft, the other the hard, side of life or human nature. Age is a much bigger factor. Once you accept that human nature will never change, you accept the need for the occasional war, embrace the salutary effects of self-reliance, etc. Next thing you know, you're voting for Bushitler.

It's all part of the duality of life. We wouldn't have up without down...

TopCat said...

When speaking of the gender gap in voting it's interesting to note that the gap is between single women and men/married women. Married women vote in very similar percentages to men in general, but women who are expecting the state to perform the functions that a husband provided in the past demand a more generous social safety net.

sonicfrog said...

Interesting. I don't have any kids though. i wonder if they did and surveys of the same type concerning political leanings relating to the sex / type of pet you have???t

Bruce Hayden said...

Another conservative father of a daughter skewing the results.

Fr. Larry Gearhart said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fr. Larry Gearhart said...

This obviously trivializes political discourse, but people will come up with all sorts of rationalizations for the positions they take.

knoxgirl said...

This surprises me... I kind of think that dads of daughters would be more protective and become more and more "traditional" in their viewpoint--and therefore more conservative.

Aspasia M. said...

My guess is that the parents of daughters are more likely to be influenced by particular political issues.

For example, if one's daughter is active in sports, then the availability of resources and teams would be more important to parents. Or if a daughter's dream was to attend VMI, then equal access to military acadamies might become a concern.

One of my high school friends wanted to fly fighter jets. Her father encouraged her to learn how to fly a plane in high school and after college she joined the air force. When I was in high school, women had not yet started to fly military missions. But she never doubted that she would one day fly fighter jets. Her father was instrumental in giving her that confidence.

Rhesa said...

Interesting. My parents are conservative, Christian and Republican, and I'm more moderate than they are (in all three categories).

Meade said...

Come to think of it, it was the most recent Democratic president who a.) is the father of one offspring (who we know of) - a girl, b.) apparently, had a pattern of using women as, essentially, objects in which to masturbate himself, and c.) coincidentally and ironically, appointed and later asked for the resignation of the first African American, and the second woman, to hold the position of United States Surgeon General when she caused a controversy on the very topic of masturbation.

from wikipedia:
In 1994, [Minnie Joycelyn Elders] was invited to speak at a United Nations conference on AIDS. She was asked whether it would be appropriate to promote masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity, and she replied, "I think that is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught." This remark caused great controversy, especially amongst conservative Christian groups and right wing interests in the United States.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Wouldn't parents of sons become more liberal in order to try to keep their sons out of war?

Meade said...

Perhaps, unless parents of boys really are having less sex which might free them to think more deeply about such things as politics and realize that it is liberal administration policies (Clinton, Carter, Johnson...) of appeasement and "soft" power which tend to force successive administrations (Bush, Reagan, Nixon) into having to use "hard" power.

Roger Sweeny said...

Perhaps parents feel that more left parties are more likely to see males as a problem, to think that they need to be taken down a peg and controlled, to approve of or to require discrimination against them.

If you're the parent of girls, you like that. If you're the parent of boys, you don't.

vbspurs said...

What the freak?

Who thought up of:

Conservative = male
Liberal = female


And yes, I'm well aware that the answer is Ahhhnuld, and his girly-man quip. Damn him!

P.S.: Truly, this is a stupid study, and an even stupider starting premise. Some of the most Conservative people in history, have been women...that's why Feminism didn't exactly occur until the late 19th century, you know...

Cheers,
Victoria

Meade said...

"P.S.: Truly, this is a stupid study..."

Yes, Vic, it is stupid. But, shhhh, be vewy, vewy quiet -- I think we'ah hunting wascally gullible commentuh wabbits. hee hee hee hee.

Jacques Cuze said...

I hang to the left.

Bob said...

I have a daughter, born April of last year, and I used to be relatively moderate (right of center). Now, on many issues (immigration and the relationship of the US to the Muslim world being just two), I've moved even further to the right. Just another outlier, I s'pose!