Mathilde van Ditmars (University of Lucerne) (webinar)
11 March 2021 @ 14:00 - 15:30
Abstract: While the consequences of parental divorce have been studied extensively by sociologists, the political implications of this impactful life event have remained uncovered. At the same time, political socialization relies mostly on the traditional two-family household, which does not reflect the reality anymore of a substantive part of families. We expect that parental separation yields more left-wing ideologies in offspring through several mechanisms: 1) the economic deprivation that often follows parental separation; 2) the higher likelihood of political socialization mostly by the mother, and women on average holding more leftist views; 3.) witnessing parents breaking with traditional family norms. Household panel data from Switzerland (SHP) is used, which allows for investigating the consequences of parental divorce on adult children’s political ideology – controlling for the ideology and self-selection of parents into separation, and for observing the mother’s ideology over time. The results indicate that children of separated parents hold more left-wing ideologies than those without, keeping parental ideology constant. Individual fixed effects analyses indicate no change in the mother’s ideology after divorce or separation. This implies that the initial left-wing effect of parental divorce is not a consequence of the transmission of the mother’s shift in ideology, but is likely due to the actual experience of parental divorce.