AbstractAre beautiful politicians more likely to be elected? To test this, we use evidence from Australia, a country in which voting is compulsory, and in which voters are given ‘How to Vote’ cards depicting photos of the major party candidates as they arrive to vote. Using raters chosen to be representative of the electorate, we assess the beauty of political candidates from major political parties, and then estimate the effect of beauty on voteshare for candidates in the 2004 federal election. Beautiful candidates are indeed more likely to be elected, with a one standard deviation increase in beauty associated with a 1½ – 2 percentage point increase in voteshare. Our results are robust to several specification checks: adding party fixed effects, dropping well-known politicians, using non-Australian beauty raters, omitting candidates of non-Anglo Saxon appearance, controlling for age, and analyzing the ‘beauty gap’ between candidates running in the same electorate. The marginal effect of beauty is larger for male candidates than for female candidates, and appears to be approximately linear. Consistent with the theory that returns to beauty reflect discrimination, we find suggestive evidence that beauty matters more in electorates with a higher share of apathetic voters.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 616.
Date of creation: Aug 2009
Date of revision:
economics of beauty; elections; voter rationality; information shortcuts; thin slices;
Other versions of this item:
- D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
- J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-10-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2009-10-03 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-CDM-2009-10-03 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-CUL-2009-10-03 (Cultural Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2009-10-03 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-POL-2009-10-03 (Positive Political Economics)
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Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- 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).
- Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and their Voters Reward it," CESifo Working Paper Series 3310, CESifo Group Munich.
- Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Ratio Working Papers 161, The Ratio Institute.
- Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2011. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Their Voters Reward it," Working Papers CEB 11-004, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
- 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.
- 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.
- Leigh, Andrew & Susilo, Tirta, 2009. "Is voting skin-deep? Estimating the effect of candidate ballot photographs on election outcomes," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 61-70, February.
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