Women Policymakers’ Abortion Preferences: Understanding the Intersection of Gender and Wealth,with Leonardo Arriola, Danny Choi, Melanie Phillips, and Lise Rakner (R&R at Comparative Political Studies)
When are politicians willing to liberalize abortion laws? While restricted access to legal abortion affects millions of women around the world, there is relatively little understanding of the factors shaping the views of politicians who craft or uphold such restrictive laws. This study examines the impact of a public health framing commonly employed by activists to persuade politicians to reform abortion laws. We provide evidence that politicians’ preferences toward abortion reforms are shaped by the intersection of gender and wealth. Drawing on a survey experiment conducted among more than 600 politicians in Zambia, we show that only women politicians from less wealthy backgrounds are more likely to support policy liberalization after being exposed to a public health framing. These findings underscore how economic inequalities can affect the substantive representation of women’s interests and provide a baseline for further research on the use of framing strategies in other developing country contexts.
Opposition Response to Term Limit Subversion and Democratic Backsliding: Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire, with Irene Morse
How does democratic backsliding mobilize the opposition? We leverage a common episode of democratic backsliding in Africa – incumbents running for a 3rd term despite a term limit – to examine its effects on opposition behavior on social media. Through computational text analysis, we analyze over 1 million public posts in groups supporting political actors in Côte d’Ivoire in the run-up to the 2020 elections. We find that prior to the incumbent’s announcement, opposition supporters were preparing to participate in what they perceived as a competitive and viable election. However, once the incumbent announced his third term run, opposition rhetoric shifted to expressions of disillusionment with democracy, concerns about election integrity, and appeals for peace (and violence) rooted in condemnation of the incumbent. We show how examining social media can provide insight into the processes underpinning democratic disillusionment in the wake of backsliding.
Partisanship, Gender, and the Structure of Politician Networks in Zambia, with Leonardo Arriola, Danny Choi, Melanie Phillips, and Lise Rakner Although women have entered government in African countries at an unprecedented rate over the past three decades, it remains unknown to what extent they have acquired the influence necessary to shape policymaking. Are women able to exercise personal influence to the same degree or in the same ways as their male counterparts? We argue that women tend to be less influential than men due to the structure of their personal networks with other politicians. Prior scholarship on African politics has demonstrated that political outcomes depend on the personal ties that connect politicians to one other. Based on a novel network survey among Zambian candidates, we demonstrate that women tend to be peripherally situated within networks. We find that women are systematically less likely to be connected to others in social or work networks among politicians. We also demonstrate that, while having fewer connections than men, women have connections with more important people in both social and work networks.