How institutions affect gender gaps in public opinion expression

Lilach Nir, Scott D. McClurg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The expression of opinions in ordinary political discussions between citizens is essential to public opinion dynamics such as opinion leadership, false consensus, or pluralistic ignorance. One of the main predictors of expressiveness in citizens' discussions is gender. Although research documents consistent gaps between men's and women's expressiveness through political discussion, most insights are based on the United States. Absent a comparative perspective, little consideration has been given to major differences across countries in men's and women's access to various institutions, and whether this access correlates with gender gaps in discursive expression. Access affects opportunities of women and men to encounter politically relevant information and connect with potential discussants. The present article tests whether greater egalitarianism in political representation, education, and workforce participation reduces gender gaps in political discussion. Multilevel analyses of the International Social Survey Program data set (approximately N = 36,600; 33 countries) show that several country-level features affect the contribution of gender to political discussion, but in ways that suggest a trade-off between gender equality and opinion expressiveness.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)544-567
Number of pages24
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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