Do daughters make you more conservative?

April 5, 2010 | 20 comments
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Photo belonging to James Neeley via Flicker

Photo belonging to James Neeley via Flicker

Tyler Cowan revisits the topic in a post today (HT: Sheldon). I vaguely remember someone in the bloggernacle posting on this in years passed, but my cursory search didn’t turn up much. So, as I’m curious what others make of the research, I thought I’d throw it out to the wolves again. Cowan quotes a new article that states in relevant part:

Washington (2008) finds that, controlling for total number of children, each additional daughter makes a member of Congress more likely to vote liberally and attributes this finding to socialization. However, daughters’ influence could manifest differently for elite politicians and the general citizenry, thanks to the selection gradient particular to the political process. This study asks whether the proportion of female biological offspring affects political party identification. Using nationally-representative data from the General Social Survey, we find that female offspring induce more conservative political identification. We hypothesize that this results from the change in reproductive fitness strategy that daughters may evince.

(Perhaps this plea is laughably in vain, but let’s avoid the banal partisan tit-for-tat).

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20 Responses to Do daughters make you more conservative?

  1. Sheldon on April 5, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    First, why did you link to a picture of Dan Neeley? He’s a nice guy, and his kid is cute, but… that’s just so random. I’m going to have to ask Dan if he feels more liberal or conservative these days.

    Anyway, this 2010 study reaches the opposite conclusion of the earlier much-discussed study showing a correlation between having daughters and liberal voting patterns.

    Here’s the 2010 study’s intriguing conclusion:

    The conservative emphasis on family, traditional values and gender roles, and prolife anti-abortion sentiments all stress investment in children – for both men and women. Conservative policies mirror the genetic interests of women, writ large. They attempt to promote paternal investment in offspring. Further, they stress investment in conceived offspring – “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” In short, Conservative policies support the genetic fitness of women by capitalizing on each pregnancy, reducing male promiscuity, and increasing paternal investment in children. Such policies may impinge on the freedom of parents’ immediate offspring, but they increase the expected number of grandchildren via daughters.

  2. Raymond Takashi Swenson on April 5, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    On the social and economic dimensions, dependence upon self and family is a good surrogate for “conservatism”, while dependence upon (or desire for support from) government is a good surrogate for “liberal” or “progressive” views on public policy. A hallmark of “progressive” policies is active reduction in the authority and power of families over children, including limiting the control parents have over the sex education/indoctrination given in public schools. At least one decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals specifically denied that parents have any inherent right to control exposure of their children to certain instructional programs, such as ones asserting the normalcy of homosexual activities. Reduction of parental authority enhances the relative power of government, including judges, legislators, and professional bureaucrats, who consider themselves better educated and more just and fair than ordinary parents. The irony is that the typical “ignorant parent” is a product of a lifetime of education in the public schools governed by the self-anointed enlightened members of society.

    If you are more conservative (in this sense) you are going to have more children and more daughters. I am sure that a man who has an innate sense of responsibility will have that sense awakened or energized when he has a child, son or daughter, but my guess is that the chain of causation is more in the other direction.

  3. Dan on April 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    In other words, there are equally as many conservative daughters and liberal daughters, and roughly equally as many conservative parents as there are liberal parents and there really is no correlation between the variables in question.

  4. Dan on April 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Raymon,

    On the social and economic dimensions, dependence upon self and family is a good surrogate for “conservatism”, while dependence upon (or desire for support from) government is a good surrogate for “liberal” or “progressive” views on public policy.

    Nope. That would be how conservatives view things, but it is wholly inaccurate description of actual reality.

  5. Adam Greenwood on April 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Tat!

  6. Steve Evans on April 5, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Tit.

  7. Adam Greenwood on April 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Once more, Steve E., this time with enthusiasm! (And without the crude booby jokes).

  8. John Hamilton on April 5, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I’m with ya, Raymond!

    Tit, tat, ratta-tat-tat!

  9. Bob on April 5, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    Yes_ having daughters does make you feel someone is coming after all your money.

  10. Kaimi on April 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Fathers, be good to your daughters
    Daughters will love like you do
    Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers
    So mothers, be good to your daughters, too.

  11. Iowa_Pilot on April 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    It depends…my daughter was very conservative, so I was pretty liberal with her. My sons take liberties, so I’m pretty conservative with them. My sons have taken/stolen/ used much more of my money than my older daughter ever has, so that has made me more conservative with the boys and much more liberal with my wallet for my oldest daughter.

    There’s not a gender identification to the behavior; rather, it is an experience identification. Also, my daughter is currently on a mission, so I’m spending lots of cash on her, but I know what it’s going for. My sons owe me thousands, and there’s no real value for the buck there.

  12. Chris Henrichsen on April 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I have had a daughter for 4 plus year. Hmmm. Nope. Not anymore conservative. Of course I desire to be dependent on the state and to have many abortions. Things are clearing up for me.

  13. danithew on April 5, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Does the age of the daughter(s) in question make any difference?

  14. Bob on April 6, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Danithew: No, the daughter only need to understand “Money”, and that you have an endless supply of it.

  15. Tiffany on April 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Well my dad, father to 8 girls, yes really, 8 girls, has grown increasingly conservative over the years. So my personal experience confirms the idea. Whether or not it is true generally is something I don’t really know.

  16. Adam Greenwood on April 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    “Of course I desire to be dependent on the state and to have many abortions. ”

    Don’t let anyone stop you from living your dream!

    (Awesome comment, by the way. Got me to laugh.)

  17. Adam Greenwood on April 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    As far as I can tell, the study does not and cannot rule out the possibility that people who are more conservative have proportionally more daughters. Two possible mechanisms: it appears that some couples are biologically more likely to have girls than boys–perhaps whatever biological factor predisposes one this way also has an effect on one’s political inclinations; second, perhaps conservative men are more likely to want a son and keep going for more children if they have a daughter (the study controlled for family size, but this mechanism still means that a greater proportion of families with, say, three daughters and one son are conservative than would otherwise be the case).

    For what its worth, I’m conservative and the father of four daughters, but I don’t think I’ve become more conservative over time.

  18. Dan on April 6, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    For what its worth, I’m conservative and the father of four daughters, but I don’t think I’ve become more conservative over time.

    So see, the survey is bunk. :)

  19. Chris Henrichsen on April 6, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Adam (#16),

    Thanks. I do what I can.

  20. John on April 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I have two sons and two daughters. I’m a moderate.

WELCOME

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