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Black Substantive Representation in State Legislatures from 1971–1994


  • *Direct correspondence to Chris Owens, Department of Political Science, Central Michigan University, 247 Anspach Hall, Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 〈〉. I will be glad to share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate this study. I thank Jan Leighley, Ken Meier, Dan Wood, Guy Whitten, David Kimball, Sean Nicholson-Crotty, James Garand, Giggy Owens, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions.


Objective. To determine if increased black descriptive representation in state legislatures has resulted in greater influence over policy outputs.

Methods. I examine state budgets over a 24-year period, comparing changes in spending priorities within budgets.

Results. The results demonstrate that increased black representation has resulted in state legislatures giving greater priority to policy areas important to black elected officials.

Conclusion. When measured correctly, increased descriptive representation can result in increased substantive representation in large political institutions.