Gender Difference or Parallel Publics? The Dynamics of Defense Spending Opinions in the United States, 1965-2007
Eichenberg, Richard C.
Stoll, Richard J.
Gender is now recognized as an important dividing line in American political life, and scholars have accumulated evidence that national security issues are an important reason for gender differences in policy preferences. We therefore expect that the dynamics of support for defense spending among men and women will differ. In contrast, several scholars have shown that population subgroups exhibit a ‘‘parallel’’ dynamic in which the evolution of their preferences over time is very similar, despite differences in the average level of support. Unfortunately, there is little time series evidence on gendered reactions to policy, including defense spending, that would allow one to arbitrate between these competing perspectives. In this research note, we assemble a time series of support for defense spending among men and women and model the determinants of that support for the period 1967–2007. We find that women are on average less supportive of defense spending than are men. However, we also find that the over time variation of support for defense spending among men and women is very similar—each is conditioned principally by the past year’s change in defense spending and occasionally by war casualties and a trade-off between defense and civilian spending.