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When Political Talk Is Pillow Talk: How Gender Empowerment Affects Gaps in Perceived Political Knowledge and Vote Choice between Husbands and Wives around the World

33 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2015 Last revised: 11 Nov 2016

Amy Erica Smith

Iowa State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: October 12, 2016

Abstract

Though important studies examine political socialization between spouses, the implications for gender gaps in political knowledge and vote choice remain unaddressed. Varying gender roles in societies around the world lead to differences in the ways husbands and wives perceive each other’s political knowledge and express disagreement during elections. Analysis of 22 elections in 17 countries shows that when women’s labor force participation rises and gender norms are more egalitarian, both men and women perceive their partners as better informed, while gender gaps in spouses’ perceived political expertise shrink. However, underlying policy disagreements are more likely to lead to ideological gaps in the vote in more gender-equal contexts. At the individual level, women’s own education increases their likelihood of diverging from their husbands’ vote choices, but it does not affect husbands’ perceptions of wives’ knowledge. Thus, beyond individual empowerment, societal gender equality is necessary for women’s political equality within the home.

Keywords: political discussion, marriage, gender gaps

Suggested Citation

Smith, Amy Erica, When Political Talk Is Pillow Talk: How Gender Empowerment Affects Gaps in Perceived Political Knowledge and Vote Choice between Husbands and Wives around the World (October 12, 2016). Political Networks Workshops & Conference 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2627004 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2627004

Amy E. Smith (Contact Author)

Iowa State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ames, IA 50011
United States

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