Differential Fertility Makes Society More Conservative on "Family Values"

Tom Vogl
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

“Family values” conservatives in the United States have more children and more siblings than their compatriots. These patterns reflect the tendency of the more religious and less educated to have larger families and more conservative views on the family. Among Protestants, denominational differences play a role, with fundamentalist groups exhibiting larger families, less education, and greater conservatism. The causal pathways are unclear, but the patterns reshape society: Traditional-family conservatism is more prevalent than it would have been if each person had the same population share as his or her parents. This demographic phenomenon raises opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion by 3 to 4 percentage points. It accounts for 7.9 million of the nation’s 54.8 million opponents to same-sex marriage.