This is a follow-up of a post from 2006 that everyone has forgotten about.
I’ve added Wordsum to the regression analysis.
|Dependent||CHILDS||NUMBER OF CHILDREN||0-8||9||1|
|Independent||EQWLTH||SHOULD GOVT REDUCE INCOME DIFFERENCES||1-7||0,8,9||1|
|Independent||BIBLE(1-3)||FEELINGS ABOUT THE BIBLE||1-4||0,8,9||1|
|Independent||WORDSUM(3-10)||NUMBER WORDS CORRECT IN VOCABULARY TEST||0-10||-1,98,99||1|
|Weight||COMPWT||Composite weight = WTSSALL * OVERSAMP * FORMWT||.1927-11.1290||1|
|Filter||YEAR(2000-2010)||GSS YEAR FOR THIS RESPONDENT||1972-2010||1|
|Regression Coefficients||Test That Each Coefficient = 0|
The purpose of this regression analysis is to tell us what predicts the number of children people report having. (That's the variable CHILDS.)
What this regression is telling us is that Wordsum (which is a good proxy for intelligence) has absolutely no correlation with number of children, when these other two variables are included in the regression analysis. (Without those other two variables, Wordsum would have a -0.045 correlation with number of children and a T-statistic of -3.797).
The most powerful correlation with number of children is religiosity. Let me remind you of the text for this question:
120a. Which of these statements comes closest to describing your feelings about teh Bible? 1. The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word. 2. The Bible is the inspired word of God but not everything in it should be taken literally, word for word. 3. The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men.
The predicted difference between being a fundamentalist Christian (answering #1) or being a non-believer in the Bible although often still a believer in a more abstract concept of God (answering #3) is having an extra 0.74 children, which is a pretty huge difference for one little variable.
The other question, EQWLTH goes like this:
74a. Some people think that the government in Washington ought to reduce the income differences between the rich and the poor, perhaps by raising the taxes of wealthy families or by giving income assistance to the poor. Others think that the government should not concern itself with reducing this income difference between the rich and the poor. Here is a card with a scale from 1 to 7. Think of a score of 1 as meaning that the government ought to reduce the income differences between rich and poor, and a score of 7 meaning that the government should not concern itself with reducing income differences. What score between 1 and 7 comes closest to the way you feel?
I think this question is a good proxy for having “liberal” or “conservative” economic views, and it’s asked on the GSS every year. The difference between being an extreme liberal and an extreme conservative on this issue is a modest 0.19 children.
So when people say that conservatives have more children, or that intelligent people have fewer children, they are actually wrong. What’s really happening here is that having “conservative” politics is correlated with being more religious, and being more intelligent is correlated with being less religious, and it’s really being religious which causes people to have more children.
It’s possible that cause and effect could run the other way. Does having children cause people to change their beliefs about the Bible or does it cause people to change their beliefs about whether Washington should reduce income differences?
I don’t think that having children would change one’s viewpoint on the Bible, even if it causes one to attend Church more often for the sake of the children’s religious upbringing. Having children might make one more fiscally conservative, however, because maybe it causes working people to feel a greater need to keep the money they think they earned.