Parents with more daughters than sons, and whose first born is a girl, are more likely to be Republican, a new study finds.
Parents with all daughters were 14 percent less likely to identify as Democrats and 11 percent more likely to identify as Republicans than parents with no daughters, sociologists Dalton Conley of New York University and Emily Rauscher of University of Kansas found. Their article, "The Effect of Daughters on Partisanship and Social Attitudes Toward Women," was published in the Nov. 21 edition of Sociological Forum.
The authors also found class differences. The effects were stronger among upper-income families and decreased with socioeconomic status. Those at the bottom of the income scale saw no relationship between partisanship and the gender of their children.
The researchers used a General Social Survey longitudinal study that followed 661 respondents from 1972 to 1994.
Conley and Rauscher are not sure why the relationship exists, but speculate that their findings support the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which argues that parents will make subconscious choices that increase the likelihood that their children will reproduce. Parents of daughters subconsciously believe that Republican policies will increase the likelihood that those daughter will have children, and have more children, while parents of sons do not believe that Republican policies will increase the likelihood that their sons will reproduce, the authors suggest.
Some previous studies showed the opposite of what Conley and Rauscher found. A 2008 study showed that members of Congress with more daughters are more liberal.
"However," they wrote, "daughters' influence could manifest differently for elite politicians and the general citizenry either due to self-selection or the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which suggests that parents invest differently in male and female children depending on their social status."