Political ideology and childhood vaccination

So, when I did my recent post on ideology and GMO food, Itchy commented about the vaccine issue.  As it turns out, that’s addressed in the preceding chapter of the Pew report to which I linked.  First, some basic demographics:

Childhood Vaccines

Not all that many divides, but the most disturbing and notable one is that on age.  For once, old people get it right.  It’s honestly quite worrisome to see such a split among those under 30.  But, onto politics.

No, it’s not a bunch of “crunchy” Whole-Foods-loving liberals who most fear vaccination, it’s conservatives:

Trends on Childhood Vaccines by Party and Ideology

Now, these are, of course, pretty small differences as political matters go, but it is definitely conservatives who are most opposed to mandatory vaccination.  And, again, most disturbingly, is the partisan split since 2009.  We definitely do not need this being a partisan issue.

It’s also interesting that when you leave the original “very” categories, very liberal and very conservative are the least supportive– though very conservative dramatically so (67% for very liberal, and only 53% for very conservative).  Here’s my SPSS crosstab:


Again, Pew ran some regressions so that we can see these partisan and ideological effects hold up with controls:

Factors Associated With Views About Requiring Childhood Vaccines

Democrats and leaning Democrats are more likely than their Republican counterparts to say that childhood vaccines should be required, controlling for other factors (a difference in the predicted probability between the two groups of 9 percentage points). Political ideology, gender and education are not significant predictors of views on this issue. Race and ethnicity are not significant predictors of opinion, although there is a trend for Hispanics to say vaccines should be required, relative to non-Hispanic whites.

A separate analysis including religious affiliation and frequency of church attendance finds evangelical Protestants less likely to say that such vaccines should be required. Age and political party are significant predictors of vaccines, even when controlling for these religious factors.

The good news: A substantial majority of Americans still appreciates that vaccines should be mandatory.  The bad news– the issue has become more political.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

2 Responses to Political ideology and childhood vaccination

  1. Jon Syfer says:

    I really don’t understand why ppl falsely believe that this a political issue, or that the anti-chemical injection movement is something new. I’m the parent of a vaccine damaged child. Does that automatically place me a political category?

    A little logic goes a long way.

  2. Pingback: Trump administration is anti-science | The grokking eagle

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