In whose interest? Gender and mass-elite priority congruence in Sub-Saharan Africa

Amanda Clayton, Cecilia Josefsson, Robert Mattes, Shaheen Mozaffar

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Do men and women representatives hold different legislative priorities? Do these priorities align with citizens who share their gender? Whereas substantive representation theorists suggest legislators’ priorities should align with their cogender constituents, Downsian-based theories suggest no role for gender. We test these differing expectations through a new originally collected survey data set of more than 800 parliamentarians and data from more than 19,000 citizens from 17 sub-Saharan African countries. We find that whereas parliamentarians prioritize similar issues as citizens in general, important gender differences also emerge. Women representatives and women citizens are significantly more likely to prioritize poverty reduction, health care, and women’s rights, whereas men representatives and men citizens tend to prioritize infrastructure projects. Examining variation in congruence between countries, we find that parliamentarians’ and cogender citizens’ priorities are most similar where democratic institutions are strongest. These results provide robust new evidence and insight into how and when legislator identity affects the representative process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-101
Number of pages33
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number1
Early online date19 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2019


  • gender
  • secuality and politics
  • representation and electoral systems
  • African politics


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  • ALP: African Legislatures Project

    Mattes, R., Mozaffar, S. & Barkan, J.

    1/01/08 → …

    Project: Research

  • Afrobarometer

    Mattes, R., Gyimah-Boadi, E., Bratton, M., Logan, C., Dulani, B. & Mitullah, W.

    14/09/98 → …

    Project: Research

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