Acton Institute Powerblog

Liberal Birth Dearth

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Regular readers may have already inferred that I am fascinated by demographics. So I enjoyed this piece at by Arthur C. Brooks, who uses survey data to show that conservatives have more babies than liberals. He presses the statistics, moreover, into the service of demonstrating that the trend bodes ill for Democratic Party political success.

Taken completely seriously, there are problems with the analysis—for example, what “liberal” and “conservative” mean with respect both to survey answers and to politics—but taken light-heartedly, it’s a collection of interesting data points inventively presented. Here’s the key stat:

According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids.

Kevin Schmiesing Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., is a research fellow for the research department at the Acton Institute. He is a frequent writer on Catholic social thought and economics, is the author of American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895-1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and is most recently the author of Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Lexington Books, 2004). Dr. Schmiesing holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Franciscan University ofSteubenville. Author of Within the Market Strife and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895—1955 (2002), he serves as Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also executive director of


  • Interesting. The article’s statement that “80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up” doesn’t surprise me, but I wonder if that means the remaining 20% might tend to drift more leftwards to even out the demographic shift to the right?

  • Kevin

    Right, the 20 percent does even things out somewhat. But, as I read the article, his predictions of the impact on future voting patterns take into account the 80-20 split. That is, *even with* 20 percent of “conservative kids” peeling away, Ohio will shift to 54 to 46, etc. The birth rate is that lopsided.