Is There a Gender Gap in Fiscal Political Preferences?

53 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2000

See all articles by R. Michael Alvarez

R. Michael Alvarez

California Institute of Technology

Edward J. McCaffery

USC Gould School of Law

Date Written: August 2000


This paper examines the relationship between attitudes on potential uses of the budget surplus and gender. Survey results show relatively weak support overall for using a projected surplus to reduce taxes, with respondents much likelier to prefer increased social spending on education or social security. There is a significant gender gap with men being far more likely than women to support tax cuts or paying down the national debt. Given a menu or particular types of tax cuts, women are marginally more likely to favor child-care relief or working poor tax credits whereas men are marginally more likely to favor capital gains reduction or tax rate cuts. When primed that the tax laws are biased against two-worker families, men significantly change their preferences, moving from support for general tax rate cuts to support for working poor tax relief, but not to child-care relief. One of the strongest results to emerge is that women are far more likely than men not to express an opinion or to confess ignorance about fiscal matters. Both genders increase their "no opinion" answer in the face of priming, but men more so than women. Further research will explore this no opinion/uncertainty aspect.

Suggested Citation

Alvarez, R. Michael and McCaffery, Edward J., Is There a Gender Gap in Fiscal Political Preferences? (August 2000). USC Law School, Olin Research Paper No. 00-5. Available at SSRN: or

R. Michael Alvarez (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology ( email )

Department of Humanities and Social Science M/C 228-77
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
626-395-4422 (Phone)

Edward J. McCaffery

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
213-740-2567 (Phone)
213-740-5502 (Fax)

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