It's widely believed that children pick up many of their political beliefs from their parents. But recently, scholars have been analyzing the relationship in the other direction: Does having a daughter make parents more liberal or conservative?
A 2008 study in the U.K. found that having daughters led parents to favor left-wing political parties and hold more liberal views on gender roles. In the United States, however, Dalton Conley and Emily Rauscher of New York University concluded in 2010 that having daughters increased the likelihood of identifying with the Republican Party and embracing more conservative views on teen sexuality. (My colleague Olga Khazan questioned whether that study relied too heavily on the particular political climate of 1994.)
So welcoming a new Sophia or Khaleesi into the family might, in terms of politics, evidently cut both ways. One can see why. For example, Democrats and the liberal British Labour Party have been more aggressive in the pursuit of equal pay for women, while Republicans and the conservative Tories generally hold more restrictive views on women’s reproductive rights and sexuality—which the authors of the U.S. study suggest is an evolutionary rational reaction: “The conservative emphasis on family, traditional values, and gender roles, and pro-life/anti-abortion sentiments all stress investment in children—for both men and women.” Thus conservatism is attractive for “individuals seek[ing] to maximize their chances of passing on genes to future generations.”