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Men, Women, and the Ballot. Gender Imbalances and Suffrage Extensions in US States

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  • Sebastian Braun
  • Michael Kvasnicka

Abstract

Woman suffrage led to one of the greatest enfranchisements in history. Yet, women neither won the right to vote by force, nor did men grant it under the imminent threat of female unrest. These facts are difficult to reconcile with leading political economy theories of suffrage extensions. In this paper, we study suffrage extensions at the level of US states and territories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to learn about the factors that accelerated, respectively delayed, a jurisdiction's transition to woman suffrage. Our results show that the general scarcity of women in the American West, or a high sex ratio, was the single most important factor behind the region's lead in the enfranchisement of women in the US. High ratios of grantors (men) to grantees (women) of the franchise appear to have promoted earlier suffrage extensions, as these imbalances reduced the political costs and risks for male legislators and electorates. Our finding may provide a more general insight into the economics of voluntary power sharing. All else equal, smaller groups should find it much easier to acquire rights or to get admitted to economic and political clubs

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Kiel Institute for the World Economy in its series Kiel Working Papers with number 1625.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kie:kieliw:1625

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Related research

Keywords: Woman Suffrage; Democratization; Political Economy; Power Sharing; Sex Ratio;

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  1. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
  2. Graziella Bertocchi, 2008. "The Enfranchisement of Women and the Welfare State," Discussion Papers 4_2008, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  3. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2004. "Why Did the Elites Extend the Suffrage? Democracy and the Scope of Government, With an Application to Britain's "Age of Reform"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 705-763, May.
  4. Humberto Llavador & Robert Oxoby, 2003. "Partisan competition, growth and the franchise," Economics Working Papers 730, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Sep 2004.
  5. John P. Conley & Akram Temimi, 2001. "Endogenous Enfranchisement When Groups' Preferences Conflict," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 79-102, February.
  6. Rick Geddes & Dean Lueck, 2002. "The Gains From Self-Ownership and the Expansion of Women's Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1079-1092, September.
  7. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Aidt, T.S. & Jensen, P.S., 2012. "From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1221, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  2. Christopher J Ellis & John Fender, 2010. "Information Aggregation, Growth and Franchise Extension with Applications to Female Enfranchisement and Inequality," Discussion Papers 10-27, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.

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