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Within-Party Sex Gaps in Expenditure Preferences among Flemish Local Politicians

  • Caroline Slegten (a1) and Bruno Heyndels (a1)


The sex gap in politics is widely documented: women tend to support left-wing parties more than men do. Evidence of this observation was recently supplemented by the identification of a within-party sex gap: within parties, female voters and politicians tend to take more left-wing positions. While this research typically limits itself to one policy area or one political party, we provide more broad-based evidence of within-party sex gaps among Flemish local politicians by covering a broad set of policy domains and six political parties. Our focus is on expenditure preferences. Analyzing stated preferences of 1,055 council members, we find that—across parties—female politicians have more leftist preferences than their male colleagues in six out of eight policy domains. Crucially, sex differences also occur within parties. We identify significant within-party sex gaps in four out of eight policy domains. Female representatives express preferences that are more left wing than their male colleagues with respect to public spending on crime, culture, and welfare. For environmental spending, they take a more right-wing position.

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We would like to thank Benny Geys for valuable comments on earlier versions of this article and Reiner Eichenberger and other participants at the Annual European Public Choice Society meeting of 2018 for helpful comments.



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