Robust Null Findings on Offspring Sex and Political Orientation


In an earlier paper, we deployed the European Social Survey (ESS) and the General Social Survey (GSS) to conduct the largest analysis to date examining the question of whether child sex affects parent political orientation, finding null effects in contrast to earlier, smaller studies. Hopfcraft (2016) argues that our null findings may have been obtained due to sample restriction and measurement error arising from the way we measure the sex of the first child "residing" in home rather than the sex of the first "biological" child. In this response, we show that her claims about the possible role of measurement error and sample selection, while theoretically possible, are empirically unwarranted based on reanalysis of the 1994 GSS data and the second round of ESS data. Also, we additionally discover that having an adopted/step child does not bias the effect of the first child's sex nor significantly influence parental political orientation in the United States in 1994. Lastly, we show that correcting measurement error can recover the significance of effects in some years but not in most other periods. We conclude that the null findings we reported are robust against the potential measurement error.

Social Forces 95(2): 899-908