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The Effect of Daughters on Partisanship and Social Attitudes Toward Women



Washington (2008) finds that daughters promote liberal voting (at least with respect to women's issues) among U.S. Congress members and attributes this finding to socialization. However, daughters’ influence could manifest differently for elite politicians and the general citizenry either due to self-selection or the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, which suggests that parents invest differently in male and female children depending on their social status. Using nationally representative data from the General Social Survey, this study asks whether biological daughters affect political party identification, traditional views of women, or opinions about abortion and teen sex. We find that female offspring promote identification with the more conservative Republican Party, but this effect depends on social status. There is no evidence that daughters promote liberal views of women and less consistent evidence that they influence views of abortion or teen sex. Overall, evidence supports the Trivers-Willard hypothesis, but with a more complex interaction by social status.