?

Log in

No account? Create an account

The Demographics of Liberty - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Feb. 12th, 2003

07:15 pm - The Demographics of Liberty

Previous Entry Share Next Entry

http://www.libertysoft.com/liberty/features/72demographics.html

The Demographics of Liberty

In 1988 and again in 1998, Liberty conducted a detailed poll of libertarians, asking them more than a hundred questions about their backgrounds, behavior, beliefs and opinions. Taken together these surveys offer portraits of libertarians taken a decade apart, and insight into how libertarians are changing.



In the February Liberty we published a summary of the new survey's findings about libertarian opinion and belief, along with an analysis of the results. In this issue, we turn to the demographics of libertarians.

As in 1988, we learned that most libertarians are male, white, heterosexual, monogamous, married, well-educated, with fairly high income. They are mostly first-born. Most were raised in a religious environment, but do not consider themselves to be religious today. They are more likely to work in technical fields or in private business than most Americans, and far less likely to be government employees.

But in almost every way that libertarians varied from the norm for Americans in 1988, they varied less in 1998. In 1988, 100% of respondents were white; in 1998 only 95% were. In 1988, 95% were male; in 1998, only 90% were. In 1988, 59% hadn't attended church in more than 5 years; in 1998, only 41% had eschewed church for that long.

Here are the questions we asked, along with the responses:

What is your age?

1988 1998
65+ 5% 13%
60-64 3% 5%
55-59 6% 10%
50-54 5% 13%
45-49 5% 14%
40-44 16% 15%
35-39 31% 10%
30-34 18% 9%
25-29 5% 7%
20-24 6% 4%

Ages of respondents range from 18 to 83. The mean age is 46.98 years, up from 40.37 in the 1988 poll, indicating that the libertarian movement is aging.

Are you male or female?

1988 1998
male 95% 90%
female 5% 10%

What is your race?

1988 1998
white 100% 95%
other 0% 5%

Are you married?

1988 1998
yes 53% 60%
no 47% 40%

How many divorces have you had?

1988 1998
3+ — 1%
2 2% 7%
1 17% 26%
0 81% 66%

How many children have you had?

1988 1998
4+ 2% 9%
3 8% 11%
2 3% 21%
1 14% 10%
0 53% 49%

The increasing age of respondents probably explains much of the increase in percentage of respondents who are married, the number of their divorces and number of their children.

Are you first-born in your family, second-born, third-born, or later?

1988 1998
first kid 56% 60%
second kid 25% 21%
third kid 12% 10%
later 7% 9%

This is one area where respondents varied considerably from the normal. If the respondents had been chosen at random from families of the same sizes as the families from which the respondents came (average: 2.99 siblings), approximately 45% would have been first-born. In actual fact, 60% were first-born — a variation of more than 33%. This is a substantial variation from the norm — but far less than the variation of 81% in 1988.

Here is the actual distribution of birth rank compared with the distribution that would be predicted by a random sampling of a group of families of the same size:

1988 1998
actual predicted actual predicted
first kid 56% 31% 60% 45%
second kid 25% 30% 21% 29%
third kid 12% 19% 10% 15%
later 7% 20% 9% 11%

What is your occupation? (Check as many as apply.)

1988 1998 Change
government employee 10% 9% -10%
law 5% 5% +0%
non-profit organization 2% 1% -50%
farming 2% 0% -100%
teaching 6% 7% +17%
factory 2% 1% -50%
medical 8% 10% +25%
investor 3% 4% +33%
scientific/technical 13% 7% -46%
small business 15% 23% +53%
sales 2% 4% +100%
managerial 6% 10% +67%
engineering 13% 10% -23%
computer science 26% 16% -38%

There has been major change here: in 1988, 52% of respondents described their occupations as scientific/technical, engineering or computer science; in 1998, only 33% did.

What is the highest level of schooling you have completed?

1988 1998
Doctoral degree 21% 16%
Master's degree 13% 17%
some grad school 16% 16%
Bachelor's degree 24% 22%
some college 18% 23%
high school grad 6% 5%
some high school 2% 1%

Which of the following best describes your religious training as a child?

1988 1998
Roman Catholic 33% 25%
Mainline Protestant 30% 37%
Fundamentalist 7% 10%
Jewish 10% 6%
none 13% 14%
other 7% 8%

Do you consider yourself a follower of any religion today?

1988 1998
yes 23% 29%
no 77% 71%

How long ago did you most recently attend a church or other form of worship?

1988 1998
0-7 days 2% 13%
8-30 days 10% 7%
31-90 days 7% 7%
91-365 days 13% 10%
1-5 years 10% 21%
longer 52% 40%
never 7% 2%

What is your annual income?

(thousands) 1988 1998
$100+ 5% 20%
$50-100 26% 32%
$30-50 26% 20%
$20-30 14% 14%
$10-20 14% 8%
$10 or less 16% 6%

How many years (if any) were you in the military?

1988 1998
0 73% 67%
1-2 13% 10%
3-4 8% 11%
5-6 3% 4%
more 3% 8%

Was your highest rank enlisted or officer? (Question only asked to those with military experience.)

1988 1998
enlisted 88% 35%
officer 12% 65%

What is your sexual orientation?

1988 1998
heterosexual 95% 90%
homosexual 3% 6%
bisexual 2% 3%
other 0% 1%

What is the predominant form of sexual activity that you engage in?

1988 1998
monogamous 70% 70%
autoerotic 16% 10%
casual/promiscuous 7% 9%
celibate 5% 7%
polygamous 0% 4%
group sex 2% 0%

How long have you been with your current partner?

1988 1998
0-1 years 13% 9%
2-4 years 15% 15%
5-10 years 30% 20%
11-20 years 20% 26%
20+ years 23% 30%

What are the political beliefs of your current partner?

1988 1998
active libertarian 5% 15%
quasi-libertarian 24% 27%
passive libertarian 38% 33%
non-libertarian 32% 25%

Do you belong to any community groups?

1988 1998
yes 18% 26%
no 82% 74%

Do you belong to any political organizations?

1988 1998
yes 45% 57%
no 55% 43%

Do you give money to libertarian causes? Humanitarian causes? Cultural causes? Religious organizations?

1988 1998
libertarian 87% 82%
humanitarian 53% 44%
cultural 37% 33%
religious 15% 26%

Do you talk to acquaintances about libertarianism?

1988 1998
yes 76% 92%
no 24% 8%

What percentage, if any, respond favorably?

1988 1998
80%+ 9% 6%
55-75% 13% 10%
35-50% 16% 24%
20-30% 20% 17%
10-15% 16% 12%
1-5% 13% 4%
0% 13% 3%

Do you speak in public about libertarian ideas?

1988 1998
yes 23% 35%
no 77% 65%

Are you a registered voter? Have you ever run for political office?

1988 1998
registered voter 81% 90%
run for office 24% 19%


Liberty, April 1999, © Copyright 1999, Liberty Foundation

Comments:

From:gedanken
Date:February 13th, 2003 06:37 am (UTC)
(Link)
I took part in both polls (the 1988 & the 1998 ones). I found the results of the beliefs part of the poll to be very interesting. They showed that libertarians were moving away from a rights theory of libertarianism (Rand & Rothbard) toward a more pragmatic view (David Friedman et al).
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:crasch
Date:February 13th, 2003 01:26 pm (UTC)

Re:

(Link)
Not only that, the male:female ratio dropped from 19:1 to 9:1. Wahoo! Things are looking up.

And libs are getting richer. Though that's probably just a function of age.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)