Voter Demand for Legislator Attention in Kenya

55 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2019

See all articles by Inbok Rhee

Inbok Rhee

KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Date Written: December 20, 2019


What do African voters want from their legislators? Do they want legislators who focus mainly on national level policy-making? Or do they favor locally oriented legislators who prioritize the needs of their local constituency? Existing studies describe voters in sub-Saharan Africa as holding an overwhelmingly strong and uniform preference for legislators to spend more time and attention in their local constituencies rather than in national assembly. Yet this research is based on a relatively limited body of work with findings that may reflect artifacts of survey design more than the reality on the ground. This chapter proposes a new theory of voter preference for legislator attention as an allocation problem, informed by qualitative evidence gathered from an in-depth focus group discussion. Using a survey experimental evidence from Kenya, I find that voters do not uniformly favor local service to the exclusion of work in the parliament. Rather voters prefer a balance between national and local attention. I show that such a preference for a balance is similar to that exhibited by voters in advanced democracies.

Suggested Citation

Rhee, Inbok, Voter Demand for Legislator Attention in Kenya (December 20, 2019). KDI School of Pub Policy & Management Paper No. 19-17, Available at SSRN: or

Inbok Rhee (Contact Author)

KDI School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

P.O. Box 184
Seoul, 130-868
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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