This article is the first of a three-part series on how Democrat policies discourage marriage and child-rearing. Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.
How women’s voting grew government and destroyed the need for fathers
Let’s start with a research paper written by economists John Lott, then at Yale University, and Lawrence Kenny, then at University of Florida. The peer-reviewed paper was published by in the University of Chicago’s Journal of Political Economy. The abstract summarizes the argument I am about to make in their abstract to the paper.
This paper examines the growth of government during this century as a result of giving women the right to vote. Using cross‐sectional time‐series data for 1870–1940, we examine state government expenditures and revenue as well as voting by U.S. House and Senate state delegations and the passage of a wide range of different state laws. Suffrage coincided with immediate increases in state government expenditures and revenue and more liberal voting patterns for federal representatives, and these effects continued growing over time as more women took advantage of the franchise. Contrary to many recent suggestions, the gender gap is not something that has arisen since the 1970s, and it helps explain why American government started growing when it did.
Now let’s look at this article by John Lott from Fox News, available here.
For decades, polls have shown that women as a group vote differently than men. Without the women’s vote, Republicans would have swept every presidential race but one between 1968 and 2004.
The gender gap exists on various issues. The major one is the issue of smaller government and lower taxes, which is a much higher priority for men than for women. This is seen in divergent attitudes held by men and women on many separate issues.
Women were much more opposed to the 1996 federal welfare reforms, which mandated time limits for receiving welfare and imposed some work requirements on welfare recipients. Women are also more supportive of Medicare, Social Security and educational expenditures.
Studies show that women are generally more risk-averse than men. This could be why they are more supportive of government programs to ensure against certain risks in life.
Women’s average incomes are also slightly lower and less likely to vary over time, which gives single women an incentive to prefer more progressive income taxes. Once women get married, however, they bear a greater share of taxes through their husbands’ relatively higher incomes — so their support for high taxes understandably declines.
Marriage also provides an economic explanation for why men and women prefer different policies.
Because women generally shoulder most of the child-rearing responsibilities, married men are more likely to acquire marketable skills that help them earn money outside the household. If a man gets divorced, he still retains these skills. But if a woman gets divorced, she is unable to recoup her investment in running the household.
Hence, single women who believe they may marry in the future, as well as married women who most fear divorce, look to the government as a form of protection against this risk from a possible divorce: a more progressive tax system and other government transfers of wealth from rich to poor. The more certain a woman is that she doesn’t risk divorce, the more likely she is to oppose government transfers.
And I have to quote his interesting conclusion:
During the early 1970s, just as women’s share of the voting population was leveling off, something else was changing: The American family began to break down, with rising divorce rates and increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock births.
Over the course of women’s lives, their political views on average vary more than those of men. Young single women start out being much more liberal than their male counterparts and are about 50 percent more likely to vote Democratic. As previously noted, these women also support a higher, more progressive income tax as well as more educational and welfare spending.
But for married women this gap is only one-third as large. And married women with children become more conservative still. Women with children who are divorced, however, are suddenly about 75 percent more likely to vote for Democrats than single men. So as divorce rates have increased, due in large part to changing divorce laws, voters have become more liberal.
The article also explains what statistics were used to arrive at these conclusions.
Based on this research, I argue that as government grows, it takes over all of the traditional responsibilities of the mothers and fathers, because socialists don’t trust parents to raise their own children. Government provides and controls day care, policing, counseling, schooling, finances, etc. As the sphere of government increases, there is less money for families to spend, and less influence for parents.
And as men see that there is nothing for them to do, they begin to withdraw from responsible behaviors like marriage and child-rearing. Men need to be needed, valued and respected for doing tasks that only they can do. Men rise to challenges if they are in control. Men don’t like to share authority with anyone, especially a meddling feminist-marxist state! More government means fewer manly men.
Let’s take a quick peek ahead to tomorrow’s topic to see why the welfare state is hostile to marriage and family.Stanley Kurtz, writing in the Weekly Standard, talks about feminism, contraception, abortion and the welfare state.
In Sweden, as elsewhere, the sixties brought contraception, abortion, and growing individualism. Sex was separated from procreation, reducing the need for “shotgun weddings.” These changes, along with the movement of women into the workforce, enabled and encouraged people to marry at later ages. With married couples putting off parenthood, early divorce had fewer consequences for children. That weakened the taboo against divorce. Since young couples were putting off children, the next step was to dispense with marriage and cohabit until children were desired. Americans have lived through this transformation. The Swedes have simply drawn the final conclusion: If we’ve come so far without marriage, why marry at all? Our love is what matters, not a piece of paper. Why should children change that?
Two things prompted the Swedes to take this extra step–the welfare state and cultural attitudes. No Western economy has a higher percentage of public employees, public expenditures–or higher tax rates–than Sweden. The massive Swedish welfare state has largely displaced the family as provider. By guaranteeing jobs and income to every citizen (even children), the welfare state renders each individual independent. It’s easier to divorce your spouse when the state will support you instead.
The taxes necessary to support the welfare state have had an enormous impact on the family. With taxes so high, women must work. This reduces the time available for child rearing, thus encouraging the expansion of a day-care system that takes a large part in raising nearly all Swedish children over age one. Here is at least a partial realization of Simone de Beauvoir’s dream of an enforced androgyny that pushes women from the home by turning children over to the state.
…There are also cultural-ideological causes of Swedish family decline. Even more than in the United States, radical feminist and socialist ideas pervade the universities and the media. Many Scandinavian social scientists see marriage as a barrier to full equality between the sexes, and would not be sorry to see marriage replaced by unmarried cohabitation. A related cultural-ideological agent of marital decline is secularism. Sweden is probably the most secular country in the world. Secular social scientists (most of them quite radical) have largely replaced clerics as arbiters of public morality. Swedes themselves link the decline of marriage to secularism. And many studies confirm that, throughout the West, religiosity is associated with institutionally strong marriage, while heightened secularism is correlated with a weakening of marriage. Scholars have long suggested that the relatively thin Christianization of the Nordic countries explains a lot about why the decline of marriage in Scandinavia is a decade ahead of the rest of the West.
Democrats are anti-family, and pro-big-government. The reason why there is a huge weakening of marriage and skyrocketing rates of out-of-wedlock births is because Democrats have replaced the need to marry competent, responsible men with an anonymous welfare check from the state, thus depriving children of fathers. Women don’t need men to rise to the occasion when they know that a welfare check, social programs and a divorce settlement is there to back them up.
This series will be continued tomorrow with another scholar and another data point.