Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Granny Goes Left

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Granny Goes Left

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Population Aging, Intracohort Aging, and Sociopolitical Attitudes" by Nicholas L. Danigelis, Melissa Hardy, and Stephen J. Curler, in American Sociological Review, Oct. 2007.

WILL THE GRAYING OF AMERica produce a more conservative electorate, resistant to liberal ideas about minorities, atheists, political dissenters, and gays? Not likely, say sociologists Nicholas L. Danigelis and Stephen J. Cutler, of the University of Vermont, and Melissa Hardy of Pennsylvania State University.

Americans over 60 are as likely as those under 40 to hold different views on hot-button social issues from those of their predecessors at the same stage of life. More surprisingly, these older Americans' opinions are more likely have shifted left than right.

Opinion surveys of nationally representative samples of the English-speaking population show that the over-60 generations responses to questions about minority groups, civil liberties, and privacy changed substantially between 1974 and 2004. The shifts occurred because of two factors--older members died and were replaced by new seniors, and beliefs gradually changed within the surveyed group. …

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