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

Clayton, Amanda and Josefsson, Cecilia and Mattes, Robert and Mozaffar, Shaheen (2019) In whose interest? Gender and mass-elite priority congruence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Comparative Political Studies, 52 (1). pp. 69-101. ISSN 0010-4140 (

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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.