Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Men Support Abortion On Demand More Than Women

Razib Kahn of Gene Expression is someone on can rely on to take an unvarnished look at data which conflicts with cultural pieties. A call in to NPR prompted him to use the General Social Survey to take a look at whether abortion is really a "women's issue" in the sense that women are more likely to support abortion on demand than men. (A few years back I used the same question on the GSS to look at how women with no children are the most likely to support abortion on demand, while the more times a woman has actually given birth the less likely she is to support abortion.) Razib's results would be surprising to progressive cultural assumptions, though they're probably less so to most pro-lifers:

All you need to do is look at the General Social Survey, which as a variable “ABANY” which asks respondents if it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion for any reason. The question has been asked every few years since 1977. I limited the data to whites only, and what you can see above is that year to year there is actually a correlation between men and women when it came to a “Yes” response. I was actually surprised by that. The jumps are not total noise, but reflect changes in the Zeitgeist (the rule of thumb is that the populace becomes more pro-choice during Republican presidencies and more pro-life during Democratic ones).

The second plot illustrates that for most of the years since 1977 men have supported abortion on demand at a higher clip than women. It doesn’t prove anything, except that reality is a little more “problematic” than some people who regularly call in to NPR might think (that’s what triggered this post).


bearing said...

What happens if you lump men (who by definition have never given birth) with women who have never given birth?

Darwin said...

It looks like men as a group support abortion on demand at about the same rate as women with two children -- less than single women but significantly more than women with three or more children.

I ran the breakdown by children for men and it's actually very similar to the one for women -- men with no children support abortion on demand at the same rate as women with no children. As you go down the distribution of number of children, the pattern is similar but men support abortion on demand by 1-2% more than women do.

Jenny said...

That other post wasn't 2 years ago. It can't be because I still regularly think about it which means it was only a few months ago.

I have another theory as to why the more times a woman gives birth, the less she supports abortion. I think that generally speaking the more times a woman successfully completes a pregnancy the less likely it is that she has had major complications from pregnancy and therefore is more likely to view it through the lens of health rather than danger. Anyway just a tangent thought from two years ago.

Jenny said...

I wonder if that extra 1-2% can be explained by "I don't have a dog in that fight" rather than "I get to have sex for free."

I think generally the high support for abortion on demand among the childless is a combination of "I get to have sex for free" plus fear of the unknown, but I am not sure the difference in rates of support between men and women should be attributed completely to callousness. It could just as easily be misplaced empathy. After all, society makes clear that being female and actually giving birth is a horrible, horrible fate so men could be wanting to shield women from it.

Darwin said...

Yeah, I don't know if I have anything in particular to say about the fact that men appear to support abortion on demand a bit more than women other than that it contradicts the progressive dogma that women care about abortion while men want to force women to have babies.

Just for kicks, I just ran the other two GSS questions:

- Do you think abortion should be legal in cases of rape?
- Do you think abortion should be legal when pregnancy threatens the mother's health?

Men are a couple percent more supportive of abortion than women in both those situations as well.

I'd tend to assume that this adds up to the "I don't have the right to tell women what to do" effect, but that's pure guesswork.

Darwin said...

"That other post wasn't 2 years ago. It can't be because I still regularly think about it which means it was only a few months ago."

Heh. I've had that happen with posts that turn out to be 6-8 years old...

The blog hits ten years old this year, which is kind of mind bending right there. We've been having a gradual traffic decrease for the last 3+ years, which I suspect has to do with my posting less frequently and engaging with other blogs less, thus slowing the acquisition of new readers. (Plus, I'm not a big social media presence, and that seems to be essential to success these days.) Still, it's hard to give up.

And maybe with the extra time coming up over the holidays, I will get around to writing about a couple of your posts, Jenny. I've been meaning to but keep not getting around to it.

Jenny said...

No, I wasn't meaning to imply that you have any particular opinion on the reason for the disparity.

I have noticed that both camps, pro-life and pro-choice, seem to embrace a 'men as monsters' paradigm: the pro-choice offering the explanation that men monstrously want women forced to bear as many children as possible and the pro-life offering the explanation that men monstrously want to be able to have as much consequence free sex with as many women as possible. I tend to have a more benign view, I guess. I think most people, men and women, are trying to make moral choices, even when the basis of their philosophy is not sound.

I'd love to hear what you have to say about my posts.