Ronda Kaysen: Parents of girls are more liberal voters than parents of boys, or so say British economists.
A team of economists studied the voting habits of fathers with three sons and fathers with three daughters and found that the dads of girls tended to vote in favor of the liberal parties while men with only sons voted for the conservative parties.
Having daughters made men "gradually shift their political stance and become more sympathetic to the 'female' desire for a ... larger amount for the public good," he said. "They become more Left-wing. Similarly, a mother with sons becomes sympathetic to the 'male' case for lower taxes and a smaller supply of public goods."
Earlier studies support this theory. A study of U.S. congressmen found that those with daughters tended to vote in favor of reproductive rights, flexible work policies, and education funding.
The evidence might be growing, but I'm not sold. Let's assume that most of the fathers who have daughters are married to the mother of the child. Presumably, their wives would have alerted them to some of these issues before. I also think that the experience of raising kids, regardless of their sex, offers a crash course in issues like education funding, health care, and family leave. (If your wife wants a longer maternity leave, it doesn't really matter if the baby is a boy or a girl, now does it?)
Some scientists think this is all a bunch of hogwash and that having girls doesn't make you liberal, rather that liberal people are more likely to have girls. Biologist Arthur Mayne comes up with a wild theory that women with more testosterone who are "more likely to display dominant, positive behaviors -- seem to produce more sons." Women with less testosterone who are more empathetic and better listeners are more likely to have girls. Because of their nature, they pick partners who are also more empathetic men who will vote liberal. The girls, it seems, are incidental.
I find this counter theory a very hard pill to swallow. It assumes that people who are liberal have lower testosterone levels and are better listeners than conservatives. I know as many fiery, opinionated liberals as I do calm, docile conservatives (and vice versa).
Moms: Has raising kids changed how you think about politics? Do you think raising girls makes a parent more liberal than raising boys?
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|