Bryan Caplan  

Partners and Liberty

How Liberty Runs in Families (... Counterstereotypical Fact of t...
Assortative mating increases family resemblance.  Given my interest in strategic libertarian fertility, then, this suggests another survey question:
If you self-identify as a libertarian, please let me know if your spouse/ significant other does as well.
Please share.  My answer is in the comments.

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COMMENTS (38 to date)
Bryan Caplan writes:

My wife rarely argues politics, but she tested at least three standard devations above my estimate of the national average on my Libertarian Purity Test, so I'll say "yes."

sunrise089 writes:

My wife isn't terribly political either, but I had her take the test and she scored an 87. FWIW I score a 128.

I wish the test had answers other than "yes" and "no." On the eight questions I answer "no" on my confidence is very weak, but on almost all of the other questions I'm very confident in my "yes."

Zac Gochenour writes:

She does identify as libertarian and has for the past 8 years or so, although before she met me (and before she went to college), she was staunchly conservative. Let's hear it for one of strategic fertility's primary competitors, persuasion.

Her parents are classic neocons. Her dad cried when Obama beat McCain.. but to be fair, her dad leans libertarian on economic issues and opposed the bailouts.

Steve Horwitz writes:

My wife is very apolitical, but I've also never had her take the purity test. So this is a "no" pending further research. (My guess is that she'll score above average.)

dlr writes:

A more realistic approach would be to urge libertarians to donate regularly to their local sperm (or egg) bank. Most people would find even that to be too much of an inconvenience, but it would be a lot more likely to happen than having additional children.

Best news of course is that since there are only about 600 libertarians in the whole universe (personal estimate), a very small investment in time and energy, (relatively speaking), would double our representation on planet earth. Think what a dramatic impact we would have on world events with 1,200 of us! Sigh.

Brandon Turner writes:

Yes. She made the transition from grouch to libertarian easily.

Jim writes:

My wife and I both identify as strong libertarians, and it's actually been one of the building blocks of our marriage (e.g. went to Skousen's Freedom Fest on our honeymoon).

Dave writes:

Married seven years, but we practically never discuss politics. The only serious political discussion we've ever had was when she got angry at me after I decided not to vote in the 2008 presidential election.

She thinks she "owes" it to those who "fought" for women's sufferage that she vote now. You may be able to tell from the scare quotes that I do not find this argument convincing.

She's a lifelong Democrat who hates Sarah Palin and really likes Obama. I suspect that may be because she thinks he's handsome (condescending, I know). I'll be able to test my hypothesis if Marco Rubio is the Republican candidate in 2012.

SB7 writes:

My (brand new) wife has libertarian leanings which I am doing my best to nurture, but se was raised by true-blue democrats. I'd answer the poll question with a firm "sort of."

SB7 writes:

My (brand new) wife has libertarian leanings which I am doing my best to nurture, but se was raised by true-blue democrats. I'd answer the poll question with a firm "sort of."

Neal W. writes:

Mine is apolitical, which I find preferable to Republican/conservative or democrat/liberal.

N. writes:

As I mentioned in the previous thread, my wife is not a libertarian. She does not have a strong party affiliation, but she is generally left-leaning. I doubt I could ever convince her to vote for anyone but a Democrat (or Green Party type), but I might some day be able to convince her to forego voting altogether in a given election. For what that's worth.

jb writes:

My ex (we were together for 18 years, married and cohabitating) is a libertarian, although she's gotten more liberal over time.

My fiance is quite liberal, although I think I'm converting her a bit towards libertarianism.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

My wife is of the libertarian bent. I find solace in being able to tell her my political feelings without her freaking out. Because as you all know, as a libertarian, you have to be kind of careful who you talk to about your political beliefs, if say they are a Democrat or Republican.

Before I met her, I had a long-term relationship with someone who was very liberal during the time I awoke to libertarianism. The political angle was a contributing factor to why we broke up.

Although I am less ultra-libertarian these days, I think a woman with significant liberal or religious beliefs would find it difficult to date me.

Floccina writes:

I scored 90. My wife is a conservative. She is very pro law enforcement, though she is for legalization of drugs.

Yes my sig-other I think is libertarian largely due to my arguments, though I haven't heard her describe herself that way.

Nicholas Weininger writes:

My wife is not a libertarian; she is a liberal who would probably score more libertarianish than most liberals. This is partly due to my arguments with her but partly due to our demographic too-- we are part of a sort of liberal subculture that tends to lean more libertarian than most.

Matt C writes:

Yes, my wife is libertarian, sometimes more than me. Also she has "the economic way of thinking". We match up fairly well in other personality traits too. We're clearly an example of assortative mating.

For all of that assortative-ness, I only expect one of our two children to end up libertarian (though it is too soon to be sure).

Steve Z writes:

I am a self-identified libertarian and so is my wife. I wonder: is being 'libertarian' heritable, as opposed to the cardinal political orientations?

MernaMoose writes:


A more realistic approach would be to urge libertarians to donate regularly to their local sperm (or egg) bank.

In the old days, all 600 of us would have gotten together on our war ponies, invaded some neighboring territory, and then raped, pillaged, and burned.

But if Bryan is right, the only thing we'd really need to do is the rape part. Just spread those predisposed genes around a little more.

Sigh. If only libertarians could be persuaded to do what is clearly in their best interests. I'm surprised we aren't entirely extinct. Yet.

MernaMoose writes:

For what it's worth, my spouse leans libertarian, but definitely more so than natural because of me and my arguments.

The same is true of nearly all my past significant others. But that's probably due to the fact that a) I'm a classical liberal, a position to which many Republicans are easily, largely persuaded, and b) I'm utterly allergic to modern day liberals (Democrats) and/or anything that leans at all socialist, or anti-Western civilization. Have never managed to maintain a close relationship with any such creature over any extended time.

Jeff writes:

I'm not married, but my girlfriend is a conservative with some libertarian leanings I'm subtly (and other times not so subtly) trying to encourage. She grew up in Richmond, a child of dyed in the wool conservative Republicans, but she's managed to shake off most of the Southern Baptist-style social conservatism they espouse. She's still a-okay with foreign interventionism, though, which is, I must say, a source of exasperation for me at times.

Rebecca Burlingame writes:

My husband and I are both libertarian, we almost always agree in political and economic discussions, which is certainly a plus. While I scored higher on the test than he did, it is probably because I have a more vivid imagination about private solutions.

Publius writes:

My wife is a libertarian. I can't imagine the torture a libertarian endures when marrying a socialist. Being compatible in politics is extremely important.

Warren writes:

I am a loudmouth libertarian. My wife declines to identify herself as libertarian but agrees with me on nearly all political questions.

agnostic writes:

You need to convert to standard deviations based on the sex's average, male or female. It's like with height -- almost no men who are 6'3 are dating, married to, or having kids by women who are 6'1 or above. Maybe 5'8 or a little above, but nowhere close to themselves.

But that doesn't stop them from having tall kids. Why? Because genes for tallness expressed in females make them tall *for a female*, e.g. 5'8 or 5'11 maybe. Expressed in the sons this couple has, he could easily be over 6'. We can't say that tall men tend to marry short women just because their wives are "only" 5'10 instead of 6'3 -- that neglects the sex difference in average height.

Men on average are much more libertarian than women, and I'd ballpark the difference as close to that in height (about 1 2/3 s.d.). So again we need to compare each partner to their sex's average. A woman who scores "only" modestly above the mixed-sex average for libertarian leanings is at least 1 s.d., maybe 2, above the female average.

Elvin writes:

My wife is a moderate Democrat. Her father worked in the Daley/Chicago machine, so she has a lot sympathy with Democrats. I don't think she has ever voted Republican and tends to avoid talking politics. When we do talk about politics, she is very knowledgable.

I don't think my wife is all that impressed with libertarianism. She's never shown any sign in learning more about it, even though before the internet I had many libertarian and conservative magazines lying around the house. She has made some very witty comments about libertarians.

In response to yesterday's question, my uncle was interesting. He found libertarianism in his 70s and immediately embraced it. He would call me up to talk about it. His daughter rolled her eyes when we talked about his late-life political beliefs. I'd guess she was moderate Democrat.

Evan writes:

My wife isn't terribly political but I think of her as moderately libertarian. She seems to hold moderate democratic views as a default, but then changes to libertarian if somebody else pokes a few holes in them for her (usually when she either talks to me, or watches Penn and Teller). I think she basically has lefty genes, but is intellectually honest enough to change her mind if someone makes a good argument.

Troy Camplin writes:

Well, I met my wife through eHarmony, and I made my basic ideology clear in that, so to some degree I think we were probably selected for each other by the program. Of course, once we met, we confirmed our basic political ideologies, world views, etc.

My wife is Mexican-American from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. She was raised by her grandparents, and she spoke Spanish exclusively until she went to Kindergarten. Because there was no bilingual education, she speaks perfect, accentless English. Growing up, she was well below the poverty line. Her grandparents thought her going to college was an indication she was lazy and didn't want to work. She went to college to major in psychology so she could become a social worker. In other words, she was very much a Leftist -- though she thought all the pro-Hispanic groups such as La Raza were ridiculous. So she had a good sense just waiting to kick in when reality hit her. And it did. After getting her MA in organizational development, she became a social worker and learned that the welfare rolls are full of cheats, etc. You would not believe the endless stories she can tell. The system is corrupt to the core, and she argues that about 90% of everyone on welfare have no business being on it. Her experience as a social worker turned her libertarian (all her friends being gay, she retained her basic social liberalism). So she is a somewhat conservative libertarian now.

todd writes:

my wife is a libertarian, as am I. She was fortunate enough to do an internship at Cato a couple years back. All our parents are straight up conservatives, though hers have gotten very involved in the tea party movement, and my mom has started reading Atlas Shrugged. So who knows we may end up multi-generation liberty lovers after all.

Alex J. writes:

My wife was on the Libertarian National Committee as the regional representative for the South East, so "yes".

Brian Moore writes:

"If you self-identify as a libertarian, please let me know if your spouse/ significant other does as well."

Yes to both.

ChrisH writes:

I would characterize myself as anarcho-capitalist -- and at the time I met my wife I was an obsessive Libertarian Party activist (so she knew what she was in for!).

My wife (19 years!) is a registered Democrat and comes from a long line of liberals (not the "classical" kind). Her grandmother was a Democratic delegate to one of the conventions in the '60s where they argued over which delegations from the South to seat.

That said, my sense is that she's never been strongly ideological, and is more idealist than anything.

I've never tried to convert her, although I certainly have had politcal arguments with her -- but I think we both come from political arguing families, just on opposing sides, so that's natural.

The funny thing is that -- to my perception -- she has swung hard in the libertarian direction. I'm jaded to the point where when sales taxes get raised another half a cent, I kind of go "meh". She gets outraged!

Why am I a FORMER activist? Well, I basically dropped out to focus on breeding the next generation. So I was persuaded by Professor Kaplan's arguments in 1991.

BFH writes:

My tag-team partner is fully libertarian. She earned her degree in economics and was actually the one who 'converted' me at university.

iwampum writes:

My boyfriend of two and half years and I are both libertarians. I don't think I could forge a lasting relationship with anyone who didn't also believe in libertarian principles!

Eccdogg writes:

Both of us are libertarian. My wife (ten years in July) scored higher than me on the libertarian purity test.

John F. writes:

My wife does identify -- and vote! -- Libertarian, but politics just isn't a deep interest to her. My younger daughter is the same way.

Peter A. Taylor writes:

My wife is a partisan Democrat. I'm Libertarian. But her position on a Nolen diagram is almost identical to mine. I regard this as an illustration of Robin Hanson's point that politics isn't about policy.

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