24 January 2006
A recent working paper by Oswald and Powdthavee argues that having daughters makes parents more left-wing. Using a decade worth of panel data, it seems that support for Labour in Britain is positively correlated with having daughters versus sons. This effect holds even after controlling for family size. Our political economy discussion group was fascinated by the idea that children could affect their parents' attitudes rather than the other way around. One of the concerns raised was that the "fertility stopping rules" might be different for liberals and conservatives if the latter values boys more. See Andy Gelman's discussion of this issue in his December 27th post (scroll down). An earlier paper by Dahl and Moretti discussed in our lunch argued that father prefer boys. As a result, there are more single mothers with girls than should be expected. We were also concerned that the analysis tosses out respondents without a party affiliation. In the U.S. most of the short-run change in party affiliation is in shift between independents and partisans rather than the more dramatic shift from Conservative to Labour.
Posted by Barry Burden at January 24, 2006 1:32 PM
There's also some research into Members of Congress which echoes these findings. Ebonya Washington has a paper (pdf) which suggests that the more daughters a Representative has, the more likely they are to take a liberal position on bills concerning reproductive rights.
Posted by: Phil Jones at January 24, 2006 5:52 PM
hopefully there will be follow-up research that includes the independents in the counts (that is if some phd candidate has not yet taken up the project)
Posted by: jack foreman at January 31, 2006 1:55 PM