Archive for the 'Families & relationships' Category

Hereditary politics?

In the Australian Election Study 2010 there is a question about the politics of the respondent’s parents. Though the generations don’t share politics as much as spouses, politics is not looking like a major source of division in family get-togethers. Labor politics seems particularly hereditary. About three-quarters of Labor identifiers in 2010 say that their parents were also Labor supporters. 30% of respondents did not know which party their parents supported.

The lower hereditary nature of Liberal politics reflects the well-known generational problems in Liberal support.

Among 2010 Green identifiers, a bit over a quarter have Liberal parents, and a bit under 40% have Labor parents.

Why are political mixed marriages rare?

According to the 2010 Australian Election Study, only about 20% of the population are very strong supporters of the party they say they usually support. So political identity doesn’t seem that important for most people. Yet the same survey included a question on the party identification of the respondent’s spouse, and found that most couples share political allegiances (I included the Greens, but with only 72 married Greens in the sample this is less reliable than the other results).

There was also a question on spouse religion, and for the big religious groups that have many respondents – Catholics and Anglicans – 47% of the former and 56% of the latter have spouses from other religions or no religion.

So even though shared religious beliefs would seem more central to harmonious life as a couple, it seems that shared political beliefs are more common.

I haven’t done more work on the AES sample to explore further, but my first hypothesis would be that despite claims that the traditional sociological bases of the major parties have been breaking down, social background and social circumstances are still the fundamental shapers of political allegiances. And because people tend to marry people who are sociologically like themselves, they end up with shared partisan preferences.

Where family payments aren’t welfare

John Howard disliked the idea that family payments were ‘welfare’. That’s why they were called ‘family tax benefits’, to emphasise that FTB was giving families back their earned money, rather than giving them a handout. At least for the generation that Howard came from, self-reliance was an important middle class idea.

I’ve never bought this argument. You don’t have to pay tax to get FTB, and indeed it is most generous to those who have no or very low market incomes. It is largely managed by Centrelink, the key institution of the Australian welfare state.

Yet an Essential survey released yesterday suggests that most people take Howard’s view. Welfare should only go to those on low incomes, but family payments aren’t welfare, just help with raising kids (what do they think single mother benefits are?). At least they support cutting benefits at $150,000.

(Apologies for the low-quality image)

Labor machine man puts family first

The moment on Insiders this morning when new NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson is torn between the Labor line on gay marriage and the life chances of his gay son. He says the right thing in the end, but his initial equivocation was painful to watch:

BARRIE CASSIDY: Just a couple of quick questions and quick answers. You’ve dealt with marijuana and a little more directly than Bill Clinton.

Gay marriages?

JOHN ROBERTSON: Look it’s a federal issue.

And I have a son who’s openly gay. Obviously I think he is a wonderful person.

But it’s a matter for the Commonwealth.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Do you support his right to marry?

JOHN ROBERTSON: Well I see him as a person who is a genuine person who can make a contribution to our society. He’s bright, he’s intelligent.

And to be blunt I think people should have the same rights.

No trend in marriage opinion

Yesterday’s Essential Research result on same-sex marriage is looking like it might be a rogue poll, with today’s Nielsen survey finding no change in opinion over the same time period:

A blip in the same-sex marriage opinion trend?

Today’s Essential Research survey reports a drop in support for gay marriage since November 2010, from 53% to 49%. Those against are up from 36% to 40%.

The margin of error for a poll like this is about 3% in either direction, so it is possible that there is no real change. But this does seem to be the first poll for several years that has found minority support for same-sex marriage. While the demographics of opinion on this subject leave little doubt that there is an emerging clear majority view in support of same-sex marriage, the campaign for it may experience a few short term ups and downs.

Should marriage be privatised?

I’ve often disagreed with social democrats about privatisation, but it is not often that I do so to oppose a privatisation proposed by a social democrat. But that’s my response to an opinion piece in yesterday’s Weekend Australian suggesting privatisation of marriage, written by Tim Soutphommasane.

Tim’s argument seems similar to that of Tamara Metz in her book Untying the Knot: Marriage, the State and the Case for their Divorce, which I reviewed in Policy late last year.

As opposed to the libertarian view that marriage should be done via contract law, Tim and Metz see the need for specific legal relationships applying to domestic relationships. I largely agree with this part of the argument; people should not be able to contract their way out of all the obligations attached to partnerships and especially parenting. With contract, too many people will not make them, or will make contracts that are one-sided or fail to foresee future issues. ‘Off the shelf’ legal arrangements can deal with these problems. Read the rest of this entry »

Lonely Australia?

Following up on the social capital theme, there have been some more results released from the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2009, including a question on loneliness.

Most people never feel lonely or feel lonely less frequently than once a year. However about 18% feel lonely daily or weekly. In a different question on the same subject, 22% agreed or strongly agreed that ‘loneliness has been a serious problem for me at times’.


Question: How often do you personally experience loneliness in your life? Read the rest of this entry »

And yet more gay marriage polling…

The Fairfax broadsheets this morning have the third recent gay marriage poll, with the usual pattern – a small but safe majority in favour, and a bit over a third against.

Though so far this is causing Labor most grief, Peter Hartcher argues in the SMH that it may eventually be more troublesome for the Coalition.

This is because while Labor voters clearly support gay marriage, Liberal voters are fairly evenly divided. In this poll Coalition voters were 51% against /42% favour. But in the Essential Research poll earlier in the month they were even at 45%/45%, and in the Galaxy poll last month 48% favour/ 46% against.

The Coalition members who spoke in the debate on Adam Bandt’s motion last week reflected this balancing act, supporting just about every aspect of gay equality except marriage.

And more gay marriage polling…

More polling today, this time from Essential Research, on same-sex marriage.

This 53% support, 36% oppose result is less decisive than the 62%/33% result recorded by Galaxy Poll in October.

There were differences in the questions, with Galaxy prefacing its question by telling respondents that gay marriage already existed in other countries. Perhaps that helped sway respondents without strong views. Read the rest of this entry »