Monday, November 26th, 2012
Does your family size have something to do with whether you voted for Obama and Romney? According to demographer Ron Lesthaeghe, it did—at least during the past couple of elections. His research pitted family size against voting results, and he found that states with the highest birth rates per capita—which means states where people have larger families—voted red, while blue states tend toward smaller families. (For instance, Republican-red Utah has a birth rate of 83.6 per 1000 women aged 15-44, while true-blue Rhode Island had just 51.3 births per 1000.) Others extrapolate that women who have more education tend to marry later and have smaller families—and tend to be more liberal politically. All of which could help explain some of the blue state/red state fertility divide.
It’s an interesting theory—though not one that I can say bears out amongst my friends and family: The staunchest conservatives have two kids or less, while the big, booming families I know tend to be liberal. (Truth be told, though, most of my friends are true-blue Obama supporters!)
But what’s even more interesting, according to blogger Lauren Sandler at New York magazine, is that this may not be the case in the future. And that’s because liberals are feeling a lot more optimistic about the future of our country—which leads them to increase their birth rates. (In fact, that may already be borne out in the latest CDC statistics, which shows birth rates on the rise for women over 35, but birth rates to young moms under 25, who tend to have larger families, on a sharp decline.) So expect to see baby booms in blue states for at least the next four years—and perhaps a less prominent divide between big families and small families when it comes time to vote in our next president.
Let me know what you think about Lesthaeghe’s findings. Do you fall along his big family conservative/small family liberal lines? Or are you an anomaly?
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