Parenthood is pushing mothers and fathers in opposite directions on political issues associated with social welfare, from health care to education, according to new research from North Carolina State University.
“Parenthood seems to heighten the political ‘gender gap,’ with women becoming more liberal and men more conservative when it comes to government spending on social welfare issues,” says Dr. Steven Greene, an associate professor of political science at NC State and co-author of the study. Greene and Dr. Laurel Elder of Hartwick College used data on the 2008 presidential election from the American National Election Studies to evaluate the voting behavior of men and women who have children at home. Parents who have grown children were not part of the study.
“Basically, women with children in the home were more liberal on social welfare attitudes, and attitudes about the Iraq War, than women without children at home,” Greene says, “which is a very different understanding of the politics of mothers than captured by the ‘Security Mom’ label popular in much media coverage. But men with kids are more conservative on social welfare issues than men without kids.” Men with kids did not differ from men without kids in their attitudes towards Iraq.
Greene also notes that, “despite media speculation that Sarah Palin, given her status as a self-proclaimed ‘Hockey Mom’ and working mother of five, would be effective at attracting the votes and admiration of parents, especially mothers, the research showed no evidence of a ‘Sarah Palin effect’ (between parents and non-parents), even when looking exclusively at Republicans.” Greene explains that this means there was no difference in how parents viewed Sarah Palin versus how non-parents viewed Sarah Palin.
The researchers evaluated the effect of parenting on voting behavior because parenthood has become increasingly politicized in recent decades. For example, Greene says, the Republican party identified itself as the “family values” party during the 1990s.
Greene and Elder had previously looked at similar data for elections going back through 1980, and their new research shows that the trend is strengthening for men with children to become more conservative, while the trend for moms to become more liberal is holding steady.
“It appears that the Democratic position, that government has a role in addressing social problems, appeals to women with children,” Greene says, “Whereas men with children are drawn to the Republican arguments that government should not play a major role on social welfare issues.”
Greene presented the research, “‘Mortgage Moms’ and ‘More Responsible Fathers’: Parenthood and Issue Attitudes in the 2008 Presidential Election,” at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Toronto
One can understand that since women are more physically and physiologically attached to their children through the process of pregnancy and the act of childbirth they might have a clearer picture of how fragile life is in general. She has a clear goal to rise a child to the best of her ability, especially considering the biological investment. So if a little help from society is required to see the child through up to the point of leaving the nest then she is not going to let false pride get in the way.
The fact that men with or without children view Iraq in a similar way might provide some insight into what happens with males and the onset of fatherhood. Testosterone and murky visions of machismo – protecting mother and child against the world kicks in. Even if rejecting help might lower the chances of juniors success in leaving the nest. Regardless of outcomes for the child, he must be seen as the tough provider. Going without – whether its nutrition or insurance, is just a way of showing junior a taste of the perceived harsh real world. men seem to take the short view and woman the benefits of the long term.
Like all sociological studies this one looks at trends. There is going to be a fair amount of deviance from the mean from individual to individual. I’ve witnessed quite a few families where dad was the nurturing liberal and mom the by the book Sargent major.
A little late for a Labor Day column, but Micheal’s Lind’s observations cannot be said enough. A few hours a week of watching Fox and reading conservative web sites are witness to the delusion that great wealth is created because wealthy people work so darn hard, Who are the wealth creators? – The right says the answer is rich people, not workers — who are wealth destroyers
Today is Labor Day, when we celebrate the wealth destroyers – at least if the libertarian right is to be believed.
According to many free-market conservatives, economic growth is almost exclusively the result of investment decisions by a small number of rich individuals – the “wealth creators.” The wealth creators, according to the conservative press, are constantly being threatened from above by government, which seeks to destroy wealth by taxation, and from below by workers, particularly those organized into unions, who threaten to destroy wealth by insisting that capitalists share a decent amount of their profits with employees. The entire basis of conservative “trickle-down” economics is the idea that the economy will grow faster if the supposed wealth creators keep more of the profits of private enterprise, with less going to taxes and worker compensation.
Wealth creation is not magic, it comes about by the work of others. The next great idea for some gizmo that people feel that must have has to be engineered, made, sold, distributed, repaired and recycled by labor.One small factor missing from our economy and the way we teach how a free market system should operate is humility. Its a small thing that has had huge negative repercussions for American workers and accelerated the abuse of our natural resources. Executives at corporations like Exxon really do believe they are entitled to hundreds of times the compensation of their employees and the holy writ is quarterly profits, not doing what is right and fair.