Who Feels They Can Understand and Have an Impact on Political Processes? Socio-demographic Correlates of Political Efficacy in 46 Countries, 1996–2016

Jennifer Oser, Fernando Feitosa, Ruth Dassonneville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

While recent research has produced robust objective evidence of unequal representation in democracies, there is little evidence about whether this inequality is consistent with individuals’ subjective perceptions of their own political efficacy. To answer this question, we use all available data on political efficacy from the International Social Survey Programme modules for 46 countries (1996–2016) to investigate trends and correlates of external and internal political efficacy. We focus on socio-demographic characteristics that are central to recent literature on unequal representation: gender, education, and income. Our individual-level findings show that education and income are positively associated with both external and internal efficacy while being female is associated with lower levels of internal efficacy but unrelated to external efficacy. We complement these individual-level analyses with a contextual investigation of how descriptive representation contributes to efficacy gaps. Focusing on gender, we show that women feel that they have more of a say in governmental decisions in contexts with a higher level of female representation among elected representatives. We conclude by noting how future research can leverage cross-national data to identify contextual mechanisms that may have an impact upon persistent social gaps in political efficacy across contexts and over time.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberedad013
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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