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Friday, May 30, 2008

Women Voters (Heart) Big Government

John Lott Jr. has a very intriguing piece at Fox News.

Ostensibly, it has to do with the question of whether there is bias against women in politics, brought on by the Clintons claims that Hillary Clinton is the victim of sexism in the presidential race.

However, it examines a much larger and more fundamental question about government: does the advent of women's suffrage (i.e. voting rights) have anything to do with the rise of Big Government in the United States? This is something a number of people (myself included) have wondered about for years.

Lott has some pretty compelling information, especially in his longer full-length paper with Larry Kenny entitled "How Dramatically Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?" which can be found here.

He points out that, except for periods of war, federal government spending consumed 2-3% of GDP before World War I. For comparison, that has been about 20% for the last 10 years or more, and hasn't been below 10% since before World War II.

Lott's piece at Fox News says women are (surprise) on average more liberal than men:

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.

Lott says a number of factors affect this liberal tendency, ranging from marriage prospects, children, and especially divorce. In the end, all these tendencies end up at the doorstep of the "safety net;" in other words, the more likely women are to believe they may need a government "safety net," the more likely they are to veer Left and vote Big Government. The proliferation of divorce in our culture, especially since the 1960s, has of course fueled this even more.

Lott examined data from several states where women received the right to vote, going back even before the 19th Amendment to see if the trend held true: it did.
Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting.

I don't think it has to be that way; my wife is as conservative as I am in many ways, maybe more so in some. But apparently it's consistent enough to establish well-documented trends.

Interesting to see my suspicions backed up with some detailed analysis. But what to do about it????

Is that nurture/mothering/feminine instinct to pad the world in Big Government too much to overcome with appeals to logic, reason, the Constitution, and the original design of the Founders for this country?


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