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Gendered Incentives for Legislative Compromise (WP-14-27)

Nichole Bauer, Laurel Harbridge, and Yanna Krupnikov

The public often views legislative compromise as preferable to gridlock. As a result, legislators may face electoral incentives to engage in compromise. Conventional wisdom suggests that incentives to compromise will be especially strong for female legislators, who may be punished more than male legislators for failing to compromise. The researchers argue and show that contrary to conventional wisdom the role of legislator gender is limited. Although gender can affect evaluations of legislators who fail to compromise, the way people respond to female legislators who do not compromise depends on two factors: first, whether these legislators are co-partisans or members of the opposing party, and second, whether the compromise is about a “women’s issue.” The researchers’ results rest on two original national experiments and suggest that although female legislators may face stronger incentives to compromise under some conditions, under other conditions male legislators have greater incentives to engage in compromise.

Nichole Bauer, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Davidson College

Laurel Harbridge, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Yanna Krupnikov, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Stony Brook University

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