Political Socialization

As a political scientist, it’s amusing watching the way our children have been acquiring their views about politics and public policy. In the business, we refer to this process as “political socialization.” Adults do not always share the political orientation of their parents, but the correlation is generally quite strong; parental party identification is an excellent predictor of a child’s party identification. (I still remember a fellow UCLA graduate student sending out a birth announcement to the department; after listing his new baby’s name, length, and weight, he closed with “and is reportedly a Democrat.”)

We don’t appear to be raising any Democrats in this family. Yesterday, my eleven year old and I were driving around running errands. At a stop light, he pointed to the car in front of us and remarked (approvingly), “Look at those bumper stickers, Daddy. ‘Rush is Right,’ and ‘Bush-Cheney.’ Those people must be Republicans!”

Then, when we got home, the eight year old greeted us with big news. Just like how Daddy had recently published a research piece about abortion attitudes, she had decided to write her own article about abortion — complete, like Daddy’s, with “numbers.” Here is how it reads, in part:

Abortion’s a bad thing. 3,9225,6225. Abortion’s horable (sic). 6535,23560. … I’m a Republican and do not support abortion. 3225,82201128.

Speaking of that article I wrote, one of our more remarkable findings is the dramatic pro-life swing among Generation Y over the last 15 years. The WSJ’s James Taranto, among others, has speculated that this may be due in part to the “Roe Effect.” In other words, those who are pro-choice tend to have more abortions than those who are pro-life, leading to a skewed population today. I’ve seen other research showing that Republicans tend to have more children than Democrats do. It’ll be interesting to track the long term impacts of these fertility differences on the American electorate.

As for us here on the farm in Illinois…we’re doing our part.

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