Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Electoral Competition, Voter Bias and Women in Politics

Author(s): Thomas Le Barbanchon and Julien Sauvagnat

Publication Date: October 2018

Keyword(s): Electoral Competition, gender attitudes, Gender Quotas and women in politics

Programme Area(s): Labour Economics and Public Economics

Abstract: We quantify the implications of voter bias and electoral competition for politicians' gender composition. Unfavorable voters' attitudes towards women and local gender earnings gap correlate negatively with the share of female candidates in Parliamentary elections. Using within-candidate variation across the different polling stations of an electoral district in a given election year, we find that female candidates obtain fewer votes in municipalities with higher gender earnings gaps. We show theoretically that when voters are biased against women, parties facing gender quotas select male candidates in the most contestable districts. We find empirical support for such a strategic party response to voter gender bias. Simulating our calibrated model confirms that competition significantly hinders the effectiveness of gender quotas.

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Bibliographic Reference

Le Barbanchon, T and Sauvagnat, J. 2018. 'Electoral Competition, Voter Bias and Women in Politics'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.