Research says parenthood is heightening the political 'gender gap,' with women becoming more liberal and men more conservative when it comes to government spending on social welfare issues.
The new research was from North Carolina State University.
"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," Dr. Steven Greene, an associate professor of political science at NC State and co-author of the study, says, "which is a very different understanding of the politics of mothers than captured by the 'Security Mom' label popular in much media coverage. But men with kids are more conservative on social welfare issues than men without kids." welfare issues."
To reach the conclusion, Greene 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.
Parents who have grown children were not part of the study.
Men with kids did not differ from men without kids in their attitudes towards Iraq, the study claimed.
The researchers evaluated the effect of parenting on voting behavior because parenthood has become increasingly politicized in recent decades.
Greene and Elder had previously looked at similar data for elections going back through 1980, and their new research shows that the trend is strengthening for men with children to become more conservative, while the trend for moms to become more liberal is holding steady.
Greene presented the research, "'Mortgage Moms' and 'More Responsible Fathers': Parenthood and Issue Attitudes in the 2008 Presidential Election," at the American Political Science Association's annual meeting in Toronto, Sept. 5.