I Am Somebody: Do Legislator Descriptive Characteristics Help Explain Representation of Low-Income Constituents, A Marginalized Subgroup? Open Access

Berge, Rebecca Kelsie (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8s45q899w?locale=en


The purpose of this project is to determine the extent to which personal legislator attributes such as race and gender influence their positions on representative behavior. I hypothesize that, because of the consistency with which race in America has been a mechanism for transmission of various social disadvantages, and because of the overrepresentation of racial minorities among low-income populations, racial minority legislators will be more likely to support economic policies benefiting low-income constituents. Further, of the groups studied racial minority female legislators will be most likely to support such policies. This study draws data from Georgia, Maryland, and Missouri state governments, and models of roll call voting behavior are compared. This is accomplished by modeling the relationship between individual legislator behavior and "identity" factors such as legislator race-gender, and district factors such as majority-minority status, educational attainment, and unemployment rate. However, legislator party was the only consistently significant predictor of roll call voting behavior across models. While some statistical evidence emerged to support the limited claim that minority race-gender legislators in these states are more likely to vote in the interest of low-income people, legislator party mediated the effects of race-gender identity.

Table of Contents

Theory 3
The Poor as a Minority 4
Representation of Minority Groups: Descriptive and Substantive Representation 8
Hypothesis 12
Methods 15
Legislation for the Low-Income 17
Variables 21
Bill Classification - Roll Call Votes 23
Description of Causal Models 25
Discussion 34
Bill Classification - Introduced Bills 38
Reflection and Conclusion 48
Summary of Findings 48
Directions for Future Research 50
References 57
Appendix A 61
Appendix B 65

Tables and Figures
Figure 1 23
Table 1 26
Table 2 28
Table 3 28
Table 4 30
Table 5 37
Figure 2 40
Figure 3 41
Figure 4 42
Table 6 44

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