Study: The More Daughters the Father Has, the More Liberal-Minded He Is

A study suggested that the more daughters a father has, the more liberal-minded he is.  Taken from the study:

Compared with males, females tend to be more in favour of higher taxes to fund provision such as the NHS. Higher taxation also affects them less since they tend to be in a lower income bracket. “As men acquire female children,” said Oswald, “those men gradually shift their political stance and become more sympathetic to the ‘female’ desire for a … larger amount for the public good. They become more leftwing. Similarly, a mother with sons becomes sympathetic to the ‘male’ case for lower taxes and a smaller supply of public goods. Political feelings are much less independently chosen than people realise,” he added. “Children mould their parents. It’s so scientifically attractive because it’s out of the parents’ control – whether they have a boy or a girl.”

The children has a bigger influence on the parents political ideology than we thought.  However, it isn’t without it’s critics that you’ll see at the end of the article:

But Arthur Mayne, a biologist who has three sons aged from 18 to 12 years, disagrees. “This is a simplistic scientific that could be accused of gender stereotyping, especially the idea that women are more likely to be softer politically than men,” he said. “While it is true that men biologically determine the sex of their children, recent studies seem to prove that women with higher levels of testosterone – who are more likely to display dominant, positive behaviours – seem to produce more sons than daughters.

“Women with lower levels of testosterone, who are more likely to be empathetic and better listeners, tend to produce more daughters. It could be that the women who are most likely to produce daughters pick a partner who is closer to her more empathetic attitude to life. Hence people who are already more liberal may produce more daughters and those who are already conservative may produce more sons.”

So the reply is which came first: the liberal-minded father and the children who just reinforced his ideals, or the children who made the father shift his political views?  Either way, it’s an interesting study.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
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7 Responses to Study: The More Daughters the Father Has, the More Liberal-Minded He Is

  1. Kevin says:

    I like the line “as men aquire children”

  2. aubreycierra says:

    It is interesting, However while I do think that having children can change a persons view I don’t think that it has as strong of an effect as the article claims it dose. this is a matter of correlation not necessarily causation.

  3. shaunmiller says:

    Yes, I don’t want to suggest that having daughters causes the father to be more liberal-minded. It is a correlation. Nevertheless, it’s still an interesting correlation.

  4. aubreycierra says:

    True it is. It makes you think about the relations between peoples circumstances and the effects that it can possible have on their belief system. Definitely interesting.

  5. Nancy says:

    i’d be interested to see comparisons between this study and the study that showed that fathers of sons are 3 times more likely to stay with a wife/female partner than if they have a daughter. the children of divorce/separation are disproportionately female, and it would be really fascinating to see if that correlates at all with this.

    • shaunmiller says:

      That’s an interesting intersection of thoughts. Maybe the daughters persuade the fathers to have a liberal bent, thus making him have a perspective that the father doesn’t need a son to “carry on the name.” Of course, it could be that father’s who already lean toward the left are already caring toward the daughters (and thus the rest of the family anyways). If that’s true, I’d like to see some studies if liberal-bent people are less likely to get divorced than conservative people.

  6. Nancy says:

    yes- though of course you’d also have to account for the idea that perhaps liberals are less likely to marry in the first place. perhaps fewer marriages, but happier ones? or are these just my prejudices speaking? i don’t know- it’d be an interesting study.

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