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Beautiful Politicians

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  • Amy King
  • Andrew Leigh

Abstract

Are 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 Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 616.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:616

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Related research

Keywords: economics of beauty; elections; voter rationality; information shortcuts; thin slices;

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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. How beautiful are our politicians?
    by Kevin Denny in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-10-12 09:05:00
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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