The Changing Gender Gap(s) in Voting: An Occupational Realignment
While in most Western democracies women support left-leaning and progressive parties at higher rate than men, five decades ago the opposite was the case. To explain the realignment along gender lines on the left, we analyze it jointly with the rise of the radical right – two phenomena usually studied separately. Unlike most studies of the gender gap, we focus on men’s vote. We contend that occupational vulnerability to trade and immigration pulled manual and non-unionized workers to support the radical right. Combined with gender segregation of the labor market whereby men hold manual jobs more than women, this vulnerability, we argue, led men holding manual jobs to abandon the left and support the radical right at disproportionately high rates. Drawing on Eurobarometer and ESS data from a cross-section of eighteen countries over a forty-year period, we first conduct aggregate analysis to show that while the gender gap on the left has reversed over time, the radical right enjoys support of men more than that of women. We further demonstrate that both men and women holding manual jobs turned to support the radical right and that the former are overrepresented among its supporters. Utilizing individual-level analysis and drawing on labor data of manual vs. communication skill dexterity required in different sectors, we find support for our argument of occupational vulnerability and support for the radical right.
Orit Kedar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The event is part of the Democracy Research Lecture Series.