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The Children Gap on Social Welfare and the Politicization of American Parents, 1984–2000

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2006

Laurel Elder
Affiliation:
Hartwick College
Steven Greene
Affiliation:
North Carolina State University

Abstract

Having and raising children bring about tremendous change in the lives of parents, and it seems likely that these changes may have a political dimension to them. In this article, we use National Election Studies data from 1984 to 2000 to explore the impact of children on social welfare policy attitudes, with special focus on how children influence the sexes differently. Our findings show that having children does have a significant effect and affects the views of men and women differently. Women with children were significantly more liberal on social welfare issues than those without, whereas children had either no effect or possibly a conservative impact on the views of men. Moreover, the impact of parenthood grows stronger across the 1990s. We argue that two factors lie behind the increased and gendered impact of parenthood: the changing nature of the American family, particularly the role of mothers, and the politicization of the American family.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2006 The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association

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