Drawing on established theories of comparative political institutions, we argue that democratic institutions carry important messages that influence mass attitudes and behaviors. Power-sharing political institutions signal to citizens that inclusiveness is an important principle of a countrys democracy and can encourage citizens to participate in politics. Applying multilevel modeling to data from the World Values Survey, we test whether democratic institutions influence political engagement in 34 countries. Further, we examine whether underrepresented groups, specifically women, are differentially affected by the use of power-sharing institutions such that they are more engaged in politics than women in countries with power-concentrating institutions. We find that disproportional electoral rules dampen engagement overall and that gender gaps in political engagement tend to be smaller in more proportional electoral systems, even after controlling for a host of other factors. Power-sharing institutions can be critical for explaining gender differences in political engagement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science