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The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success

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  • Berggren, Niclas
  • Jordahl, Henrik
  • Poutvaara, Panu

Abstract

We study the role of beauty in politics using candidate photos that figured prominently in electoral campaigns. Our investigation is based on visual assessments of 1929 Finnish political candidates from 10,011 respondents (of which 3708 were Finnish). As Finland has a proportional electoral system, we are able to compare the electoral success of non-incumbent candidates representing the same party. An increase in our measure of beauty by one standard deviation is associated with an increase of 20% in the number of votes for the average non-incumbent parliamentary candidate. The relationship is unaffected by including education and occupation as control variables and withstands several other robustness checks.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
Pages: 8-15

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:94:y:2010:i:1-2:p:8-15

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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Keywords: Beauty Elections Political candidates Appearance Competence Trustworthiness;

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References

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  1. Andrew Leigh & Tirta Susilo, 2008. "Is Voting Skin-Deep? Estimating the Effect of Candidate Ballot Photographs on Election Outcomes," CEPR Discussion Papers 583, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  2. Markus M. Mobius & Tanya S. Rosenblat, 2006. "Why Beauty Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 222-235, March.
  3. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  4. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  5. Daniel J. Benjamin & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2009. "Thin-Slice Forecasts of Gubernatorial Elections," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 523-536, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2011. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward It," IZA Discussion Papers 5513, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Böckerman, Petri & Vainiomäki, Jari, 2013. "Stature and life-time labor market outcomes: Accounting for unobserved differences," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 86-96.
  3. Daniel Hamermesh, 2012. "Tall or taller, pretty or prettier: is discrimination absolute or relative?," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-17, December.
  4. Donja Darai & Silvia Grätz, 2012. "Attraction and cooperative behavior," ECON - Working Papers, Department of Economics - University of Zurich 082, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Dec 2012.
  5. Bradley J. Ruffle & Ze’ev Shtudiner, 2010. "Are Good-Looking People More Employable?," Working Papers, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics 1006, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  6. Harry Garretsen & Janka I. Stoker & Rob Alessie & Joris Lammers, 2014. "Simply a Matter of Luck & Looks? Predicting Elections when Both the World Economy and the Psychology of Faces Count," CESifo Working Paper Series 4857, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Deryugina, Tatyana, 2013. "When Are Appearances Deceiving? The Nature of the Beauty Premium," MPRA Paper 53581, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Schnellenbach, Jan, 2012. "Nudges and norms: On the political economy of soft paternalism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 266-277.
  9. Mechtel, Mario, 2011. "It's the occupation, stupid! Explaining candidates' success in low-information local elections," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48682, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  10. Armstrong, J. Scott & Graefe, Andreas, 2011. "Predicting elections from biographical information about candidates: A test of the index method," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 64(7), pages 699-706, July.
  11. Dreber, Anna & Gerdes, Christer & Gränsmark, Patrik, 2013. "Beauty queens and battling knights: Risk taking and attractiveness in chess," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 1-18.
  12. Libman, Alexander, 2012. "Перераспределительные Конфликты И Факторы Культуры В Новой Политической Экономии
    [Redistributive Conflicts and Culture in the New Political Economy]
    ," MPRA Paper 48192, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Deryugina, Tatyana & Shurchkov, Olga, 2013. "Does Beauty Matter in Undergraduate Education?," MPRA Paper 53582, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Böckerman, Petri & Johansson, Edvard & Kiiskinen, Urpo & Heliövaara, Markku, 2010. "The relationship between physical work and the height premium: Finnish evidence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 414-420, December.
  15. Mario Mechtel, 2013. "It's the occupation, stupid! Explaining candidates' success in low-information elections," IAAEU Discussion Papers, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU) 201312, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  16. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..

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