Sex differences in budgetary preferences among Flemish local politicians

  • Caroline Slegten
  • Benny Geys
  • Bruno Heyndels
Original Article


Policy preferences have been shown to differ by sex within the electorate and among public officials. We explore whether—in a context of budgetary restraints—sex differences in budgetary preferences prevail among council members in Flemish municipalities. We find convincing evidence of sex-related differences. To fight a budget deficit, female politicians express a relative preference for increasing public revenues. Male politicians prefer to lower expenditures. Crucially, preferences also differ with respect to the nature of revenue increases and expenditure decreases. Once the option to increase revenues is chosen, women prefer the ability-to-pay principle, whereas men express a preference for the benefit principle. If, on the other hand, a decrease in expenditures is chosen, women prefer to narrow the scope of government intervention more than men, while men prefer a reduction in operating costs.


Sex Budget Survey Fiscal stress Local government 



We would like to thank Karen Celis for suggestions and comments on an earlier version.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied EconomicsVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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