September 9, 2009

As parents moms lean left, dads lean right

Parenthood seems to heighten the political gender gap, with women becoming more liberal and men more conservative, U.S. researchers suggest.

Dr. Steven Greene of North Carolina State University 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, but not parents with grown children.

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, which is a very different understanding of the politics of mothers than captured by the 'security mom' label popular in much media coverage, Greene said in a statement.

But men with kids are more conservative on social welfare issues than men without kids, he said. Men with kids did not differ from men without kids in their attitudes towards Iraq."

It appears that the Democratic position, that government has a role in addressing social problems, appeals to women with children, whereas men with children are drawn to the Republican arguments that government should not play a major role on social welfare issues, the researchers told the American Political Science Association's annual meeting in Toronto.