a1 University of California, Davis
a2 The Claremont Graduate School
We argue that structural and contextual factors substantially affect the costs and benefits to individuals of becoming politically sophisticated. If the party system, the electoral system, and legislative institutions of a polity affect the availability, clarity, and usefulness of political information, they will also account for some of the cross-national variance in any individual-level measure of sophistication. Testing the Ordinary Least Squares model using cross-national survey data from the twelve nations of the pre-1995 European Union, we find substantial support for the hypothesized relationships. This support remains robust when we control for individual-level factors, and the model explains virtually all of the available cross-national variance.
Stacy B. Gordon is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of California, Davis.
Gary M. Segura is an assistant professor at the Center for Politics and Economics, The Claremont Graduate School.