Societal religiosity and the gender gap in political interest, 1990-2014 Articles uri icon

publication date

  • March 2021

start page

  • 252

end page

  • 269


  • 2


  • 72

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0007-1315

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1468-4446


  • This manuscript examines the structural causes of the gender gap in political interest. In many countries, men are more interested in politics than women. Yet, in others, men and women prove equally interested. We explain this cross-national variation by focusing on the effects of societal religiosity. Since religion sustains the traditional gender order, contexts where societal religiosity is low undermine the taken-for-grantedness of this order, subjecting it to debate. Men then become especially interested in politics to try to reassert their traditional gender dominance, or to compensate for their increasingly uncertain social status. A secular environment thus increases political interest more among men than among women, expanding this gender gap. Using the World and European Values Survey, we estimate three-level regression models and test our religiosity-based approach in 96 countries. The results are consistent with our hypothesis.


  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Sociology


  • gender; political interest; quantitative analysis; religion; social values