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The Gender Gap in African Political Participation: Individual and contextual determinants


  • Isaksson, Ann-Sofie

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Kotsadam, Andreas
  • Nerman, Måns

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)


The aim of this paper is to analyze the factors underlying the gender gap in African electoral and inter-electoral political participation. Drawing on new data covering over 27,000 respondents from 246 regions in 20 emerging African democracies, the empirical findings suggest that while there is a gender gap in both voting and inter-electoral participation, the latter is larger. Whereas several of the investigated individual and contextual characteristics are found to be important determinants of participation, they explain only a very modest share of the observed gender gaps. We do find, however, that gender gaps in education are negatively correlated with female inter-electoral participation and that gender gaps in employment are negatively related to female voting. Interestingly, and contrary to suggestions in previous research, there is no evidence that religiosity at the individual or community level increases the gender differences in political activity.

Suggested Citation

  • Isaksson, Ann-Sofie & Kotsadam, Andreas & Nerman, Måns, 2012. "The Gender Gap in African Political Participation: Individual and contextual determinants," Working Papers in Economics 530, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0530

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Leonard Wantchekon, 2003. "Clientelism and voting behavior: Evidence from a field experiment in benin," Natural Field Experiments 00339, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Hirschmann, David, 1991. "Women and political participation in Africa: Broadening the scope of research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 19(12), pages 1679-1694, December.
    3. Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 1998. "For shame! The effect of community cooperative context on the probability of voting," MPRA Paper 27258, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:02:p:405-423_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pedro C. Vicente, 2007. "Is Vote Buying Effective? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in West Africa," Economics Series Working Papers 318, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:89:y:1995:i:02:p:271-294_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie, 2010. "Political participation in Africa: Participatory inequalities and the role of resources," Working Papers in Economics 462, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 01 Oct 2010.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    political participation; gender gap; Africa; afrobarometer;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa


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