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Men,Women, and the Ballot – Woman Suffrage in the United States

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  • Sebastian Braun
  • Michael Kvasnicka

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Abstract

Woman suffrage led to the greatest enfranchisement in the history of the United States. BeforeWorldWar I, however, suffrage states remained almost exclusively confined to the American West. The reasons for this pioneering role of theWest are still unclear. Studying the timing of woman suffrage adoption at state level, we find that states in which women were scarce (the West) enfranchised their women much earlier than states in which the sex ratio was more balanced (the rest of the country). High sex ratios in the West, that is high ratios of grantors to grantees, reduced the political costs and risks to male electorates and legislators of extending the franchise. They are also likely to have enhanced female bargaining power and may have made woman suffrage more attractive in the eyes of western legislators that sought to attract more women to their states. Our finding of a reduced-form inverse relationship between the relative size of a group and its success in securing the ballot may be of use also for the study of other franchise extensions and for inquieries into the dynamics of political power sharing more generally.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen in its series Ruhr Economic Papers with number 0093.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rwi:repape:0093

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Keywords: Woman suffrage; democratization; political economy; sex ratio;

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  1. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A, 1998. "Why did the West Extend the Franchise? Democracy, Inequality and Growth in Historical Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 1797, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. 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.
  3. Angrist, Joshua, 2001. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America's Second Generation," IZA Discussion Papers 368, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
  6. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap And The Decline In Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961, August.
  7. 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.
  8. Jenkins, Stephen P, 1995. "Easy Estimation Methods for Discrete-Time Duration Models," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 129-38, February.
  9. Grant Miller, 2008. "Women's Suffrage, Political Responsiveness, and Child Survival in American History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1287-1327, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2007. "The Enfranchisement of Women and the Welfare State," CEPR Discussion Papers 6396, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Elena Nikolova, 2011. "Labour markets and representative institutions: evidence from colonial British America," Working Papers 134, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  3. Hicks, Daniel L., 2013. "War and the political zeitgeist: Evidence from the history of female suffrage," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 60-81.

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