Friday, July 17, 2009

Males are more libertarian   posted by Razib @ 7/17/2009 04:09:00 PM

It is a rather robust cross-cultural finding that if there is a sex difference in religiosity, males will be less religious than females. Bryan Caplan has a theory about this. In any case, likely less surprising to readers is the generalization that males are more libertarian than females. Just as any random group of atheists is going to exhibit male surplus, meetings of self-identified libertarians usually seem to exhibit the same imbalance. Atheists and libertarians are both extreme cases of the distribution, and so it stands to reason that any mean difference would result in radically different representations several standard deviations away from the norm.

To explore this is a cross-culturally I looked at the WVS wave 5. Broke it down by sex & country, and looked at the following question:
People should take more responsibility to provide for themselves vs The government should take more responsibility to ensure that everyone is provided for.

The responses exhibit the range from 1-10, with one being "government should take more responsibility" and 10 being "people should take more responsibility." I computed the mean by weighting these values and the frequencies in each class of values. So if a category had a mean value of 6, that would indicate on average a more libertarian sentiment than a mean value of 4. In the total WVS sample the mean value for males is 5.7, and for females 5.6. In other words, men are somewhat more libertarian than women, but only slightly. Contrastingly there are almost 3 units in the range across countries. Below the fold are pairs of charts. The first simply displays the between sex difference for each country. If males are more libertarian in a given country the data are to the right of the chart, and if females are, the data are to the left. The scatter plots show the strong correlation in attitudes between sexes internationally.

Broken down by sex:

Broken down by sex and limited to those over the age of 40:

Broken down by sex and limited to those under the age of 40:

Broken down by sex and limited to those on the political Right:

Broken down by sex and limited to those on the political Left:

It is interesting that the sex difference seems to diminish the political Left, but less so on the Right. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in much of the world the "Right" political party is really not that libertarian in any case, but more focused on social conservatism (e.g., Christian Democratic parties).