What do your children have to do with your political leanings? More than you might imagine.
Parents who have only daughters, or whose first-born is a girl, are more likely to support the GOP. That's the word from a new study that flies in the face of previous research, which suggested that having daughters makes parents more likely to vote liberal.
"We find that daughters promote identification with the Republican Party, but this effect depends on social status," study co-author Dr. Emily Rauscher, a sociology professor at the University of Kansas, told The Huffington Post in an email. "We do not find consistent evidence that daughters influence views of women or opinions about abortion, but we find some evidence that parents with daughters are more pro-choice and more opposed to teen sex."
In the study, the researchers examined the results of a survey of 661 men and women from 1994 -- data collected by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center as part of a national longitudinal project that began in 1972. The researchers looked at 1994 because it was the only year to include questions about the gender and birth order of participants' biological children.
"The 1994 survey remains valid for our analysis because the two party system has not changed in the US," according to the journal article describing the new research, which was published in Sociological Forum.
The researchers found parents who had only daughters were 11 percent more likely to identify as Republican than the parents of boys. And they were 14 percent less likely to identify with the Democratic Party, leaning toward moderate views instead. Parents whose first-born was a girl were 6 percent more likely to identify as Republican and 6 percent less likely to identify as Democrat. These effects occurred only in families of high socioeconomic status.
Why did this happen?
“We cannot be sure, but the evidence suggests it is partly because Republican policies support the genetic fitness of women by reducing promiscuity and increasing paternal investment in children,” Rauscher told HuffPost Science. "I'm speculating here, but... perhaps the effect of daughters only appears among higher status parents because they have the luxury of basing political preferences on things other than their social or economic position. "
This isn't the first study to look at the effect of daughters on their parents' politics. A 2008 study of male congressional representatives showed that each daughter in a representative's family made him more likely to vote liberally, especially on reproductive rights.
But the scientists behind the new study say that research had its limitations. Aside from including biological children, the 2008 study used a select sample that may have skewed its findings.
"Congress people are not a random cross section of the population," Rauscher's collaborator, Dr. Dalton Conley, sociology professor at New York University, told HuffPost in an email. "Perhaps liberal constituents are more likely to elect congresspeople with daughters and more conservative districts prefer them with sons."