Parenthood, Conservatism, and the Existing World

by David Kordahl

Portrait of the Family Hinlopen (Gabriël Metsu, c. 1663)

I’m writing this column in the cool semi-darkness of a municipal auditorium. I will be here for several hours, and my main duty is to stay put. This is the dress rehearsal for a dance recital where my daughters (ages four and six) will perform. When the time comes, I will take a video with my phone.

There is nothing especially noteworthy about this, as I am just one among the dozens of parents in this room, and the millions of Americans elsewhere, who regularly schlep their children from activity to activity. Recently, however, I came across a journal article claiming that these hours spent taking care of children may have political consequences reaching far beyond the cost of dance lessons. “Experimental and cross-cultural evidence that parenthood and parental care increase social conservatism,” a psychology study from 2022 by the international collaboration of Kerry et al., argues that, across the globe, parenthood makes people more conservative.

Specifically, the article claims that parents, on average, have more conservative attitudes than their non-parents on questions involving promiscuity, homosexuality, prostitution, and abortion. Moreover, the article suggests that this relationship may be causal, that parenthood might induce people to adopt conservative attitudes (though only on social issues—not on economics). Read more »