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Partisan Competition and Women’s Suffrage in the United States

  • Soumyanetra Munshi

Though women's suffrage was federally mandated in the United States by the nineteenth amendment in 1920, many states had granted suffrage to women prior to that and most of these early suffrage states were clustered in the west. I revisit some of the popular conjectures that have been put forward to explain why these states moved first to give women the vote and offer a hypothesis of partisan competition leading to suffrage extension. Using event history analysis, I find strong evidence that early enfranchisement of women in the western states was driven by the intensity of competition between Republicans and Democrats, as well as by adverse female-male ratios and greater concentration of the population in urban areas. Moreover, as might be expected from the geographic concentration of the suffrage states, I find evidence that suffrage adoption was strongly and positively related to whether a neighboring state had women's suffrage. Also, the 'risk' of suffrage enactments was increasing over time foreshadowing the success of the nineteenth amendment.

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Article provided by Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC) in its journal Historical Social Research (Section 'Cliometrics').

Volume (Year): 35 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 351-388

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Handle: RePEc:afc:histor:v:35:y:2010:i:3:p:351-388
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cliometrie.org

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