Does the Numerical Underrepresentation of the Working Class in Congress Matter?
Article first published online: 23 JAN 2012
© 2012 The Comparative Legislative Research Center of The University of Iowa
Legislative Studies Quarterly
Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 5–34, February 2012
How to Cite
CARNES, N. (2012), Does the Numerical Underrepresentation of the Working Class in Congress Matter?. Legislative Studies Quarterly, 37: 5–34. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-9162.2011.00033.x
- Issue published online: 23 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 23 JAN 2012
Working-class citizens have been numerically underrepresented in policymaking institutions throughout most of America's history. Little is known, however, about the political consequences of this enduring feature of our democratic system. This essay examines the relationship between legislators' class backgrounds and their votes on economic policy in the House of Representatives during the twentieth century. Like ordinary Americans, representatives from working-class occupations exhibit more liberal economic preferences than other legislators, especially those from profit-oriented professions. These findings provide the first evidence of a link between the descriptive and substantive representation of social classes in the United States.